Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how hard-working teachers are. Terms like “dedication” and “going the extra mile” are used so often to describe them that the words start to lost their impact – until you hear individual stories about the day-to-day sacrifices teachers make to take care of their students. That’s why we love spending time at our adopted schools around town. Visiting and volunteering in their classrooms gives us first-hand reminders of the challenges teachers face and their exemplary efforts to overcome them.
Last week, a team from our corporate branch visited Kate Bond Elementary to present the Orion Teacher of the Month Awards for August and September to two absolutely amazing women. Please read their stories below, and help us recognize and celebrate these selfless educators – congratulate them in the comments section, and share a story about an extraordinary teacher you know!
The Orion Teacher of the Month for August is Jessica Askew.
We asked Ms. Askew for one of her most memorable experiences at KBE, and she told us the story of Marcos. The son of non-English speaking parents, Marcos began his first-grade school year as a non-reader. In class, the struggles of coming from an ESL home proved too much, and Ms. Askew worried about his lack of progress. The boy’s parents both worked full-time, and he was unable attend after-hours tutoring offered by the school. So Ms. Askew stepped in and volunteered to tutor him 2 days a week before school. On these mornings, she had to start her day about an hour earlier than usual to be there for Marcos. Thanks to her efforts, he ended the year as an emergent reader.
Having a student walk into my room on the first day of school hardly speaking English and hardly able to count, to finish the year able to complete English mathematical word problems independently with confidence is the best experience in the world to me.
Lisa Aven, Title I Coach at KBE, said Ms. Askew was nominated as Teacher of the Month because she is not only an amazing teacher, but because her contributions to the school go far beyond the classroom. Last year she served as a Common Core Math Coach for the entire State of Tennessee. She created math plans and centers that she shared with KBE’s first grade team. She also created a series of Powerpoint presentations to go along with the Journeys Reading Program which she sold on Teachers Pay Teachers and gave to KBE’s entire grade level. She did all this while also serving as grade chair.
When asked how she has time to manage all this, Ms. Askew responded, “To be completely honest I am not sure how I get everything done but somehow it works out each week. Being a mother of three and a full-time teacher I am very aware of my time and plan accordingly to get everything done. I work every night and weekends to complete all tasks. To be honest I think my only night off is Thursday because this is the day lesson plans are due and everything has been made and copied for the following week. On Friday I start all over preparing for the week ahead.”
Thank you, Ms. Askew, for all your contributions and congratulations on receiving this award!
The Orion Teacher of the Month for September is Stacy Owens.
Ms. Owens is known at KBE for her willingness to help her fellow teachers, no matter how heavy her own workload is. According to one of her peers, “Ms. Owens is always the first to offer to help when I am experiencing difficulty. She volunteered to cover all the plans and grading for another 3rd grade class that is without a teacher at this point. She always does what is best for the students.”
She has also stepped in to personally help struggling students, volunteering her before-school hours last year as a tutor during KBE’s TCAP blitz. She counts the successes she achieved during that time as some of her most memorable moments at the school: “I saw how many of my students were able to move their proficiency level from the beginning of the year to the 3rd benchmark test. It was so exciting to see how proud they felt.”
Congratulations, Ms. Owens, on a well-deserved award!