When I was growing up I wanted to either write for a Home magazine or be a primary school teacher (to be honest I wanted to be decorate a classroom and those were the days before Pinterest). Each year when I visit the winning teachers’ classrooms I always feel a little wistful that I had trained as a teacher. Read more about this special teachers below…
Knox County Schools names Teachers of the Year
Knox County Schools is again honoring its Teachers of the Year, and we highlight the area’s top educators and why they were chosen.
Adrian Burnett Elementary:
Tammy Carr, first grade
After mom of three Tammy Carr raised her own children, she returned to school to finish her teaching degree.
“I look forward to coming to school each day and unfolding the day with my kiddos,” said Carr, who has taught first grade for 10 years at Adrian Burnett. “They bring so much curiosity and excitement to the day – I probably learn more from them than I teach.” Carr has known she wanted to be a teacher since the sixth grade. “As a student myself, I always struggled with learning math,” she said. “So I try to approach teaching math in a way that might get my students excited about learning it instead of fearing it.”
Lindsay Morris, special education
Lindsay Morris started out teaching high school special education before switching to teaching K-5 special education.
“I learn every day from my students,” she said. “I learn how to find the joy and take delight in each day from my unicorn- and kitten-, rainbow- and sprinkle-loving friend. I learn how to be persistent from my friend who has difficulty communicating. I learn how to take care of others from my big-hearted friend who is always encouraging his classmates and checking in on them, who asks every day ‘How’s the baby going?’, referring to my first baby due in March.”
Morris said she has also learned to admit when she is wrong and not only how to be flexible, but how to truly listen. “I’ve learned how to speak truth and stand up for what is right, how to love, and so much more from my students,” she said.
Jennifer Munsey, fourth grade
After eight years teaching fifth grade, Jennifer Munsey switched to fourth grade two years ago.
According to Munsey, her favorite moment as a teacher was when a former student asked her to walk him across the field for his Football Senior Night.
“A teaching tool I use is to provide students with specific academic feedback and model/ ask higher order questions,” she said. “In return, students can use this model to create their own questions and provide feedback to one another within the classroom. This enriches their understanding of content in all subject areas.”
Susan Merryman, second grade
In her 22nd year of teaching, Susan Merryman taught kindergarten for 11 years before switching to second grade.
“My favorite teaching moment happens each spring when I help
my students incubate chicken eggs to watch them hatch,” she said. “The look of
surprise and amazement when they see those tiny babies finally push out of
their shells is priceless.”
Merryman also said she loves helping young readers find books that really inspire them to want to read more.
Crystal Dougan, librarian
Crystal Dougan has taught for 13 years at Amherst and Ball Camp elementary schools in addition to her time at Brickey McCloud.
“Since beginning our series reading program at BMES, I have witnessed a revival of students reading independently,” said Dougan. “An abundance of students have been reading more frequently, which has allowed overall fluency to rise and proficient and advanced readers to emerge. Students are sharing with me stories of meeting their reading goals and gaining confidence as readers.”
A real game-changer, according to Dougan was winning a TeacherPreneur grant to begin the reading program. “Students are awarded charms that go on charm bracelets for meeting their reading goals,” she said. “Teachers have shared with me that this program has helped some classrooms with behavior.”
Copper Ridge Elementary:
Valerie Sharp, second grade
Over the course of her 14 years as an educator, Valerie Sharp has taught fourth, second and first grades. “My most memorable teaching moments are those moments when my students express their excitement for learning,” said Sharp. “A very special moment for me was receiving a letter from a former student who thanked me for accepting them and showing compassion.”
Sharp likes to approach her students as individuals.
“Each child deserves a personalized approach to learning: engagement equals growth,” she said.
Fountain City Elementary:
Rachel Ellis, first grade
“Love first. Teach second,” is Rachel Ellis’ teaching philosophy.
“My most memorable moment is having past students, who are now in fifth grade, come by each day and say ‘Hi’ and tell me to have a good day,” said Ellis, who is in her fifth year teaching first grade at Fountain City Elementary. “It reminds me each day that I am making an impact on them for years to come.”
Ellis uses many collaborative strategies. “We use many Kagan strategies in my classroom,” she said. “My students love working with their peanut butter/ jelly partner. I have grouped my students by ability level and we do so much partner talk/work.”
Rachel Todd, first grade
“I believe in a positive discipline approach whenever possible (it almost always is),” said Todd, who is in her fifth year of teaching first grade. “I build relationships with my students first and foremost so that they know my love for them is not contingent on their perfection in academicsor behaviors.”
And there is rigor, in Todd’s class. “I push each and every student
Britany Ellis, fourth grade
Britany Ellis has taught fourth grade for seven years and specializes in reading and language arts.
“We do a lot of writing in fourth grade,” said Ellis. “Writing can be so challenging, yet it is essential for a child’s academic success. Being able to witness them persevere through their struggles and continue to build on their strengths is invaluable as a teacher. At the end of the year, we take time to compare our writing from throughout the year. My students are always so amazed at their progress, and so proud of what they have achieved.” Ellis said she integrates technology, getting students to use their Chromebooks to create Power-Points, conduct research, and interact throughout their lessons using special platforms.
Sherri Allen, speech therapist
“I work with preschool through fifth grade,” said Allen. “I do Quick Arctic with many of my students.
“My big thing is that I like to keep the kids in their classrooms as much as possible. I take a cart to each classroom, so that I can work with them.”