Why did you become an educator?
I became a teacher, in full honesty, because of the education I received myself. I attended the same school I now teach at, and I absolutely loved going to school each day. I got so excited every fall as school shopping began and the back-to-school excitement kicked in. I loved learning, and I loved the atmosphere of my school.
Because of this, from a young age, I just always knew that I was going to grow up to be a teacher and come back to the school – I never wanted to leave! As I grew older, the “feeling” of school still held its same allure, but I also realized that I love being with kids, I love planning lessons, and I genuinely just enjoy seeing students grow as people, as learners, and as peers.
What do you love about your school?
I may have already said it, but, everything! My school was founded as the first of the National Heritage Academies schools, and my brother attended the first semester it opened as part of the inaugural first grade class. Since the day they opened, Excel has been a school that embraces families: the same families that were involved the first couple of years it opened are the same families that still work at the school today or have children and even grandchildren that are currently attending.
Some of the original teachers still teach at Excel 20 some years later, students have come back as teachers (there’s more than just me!), teachers’ kids have come back to work, parents of the first few classes now work at the school in various capacities, etc…families are incredibly involved! Excel truly values its families and the voices that they each have.
I also love how much the staff genuinely cares for the students. Our job is more than just teaching them standards. Instead, we focus on the whole child, including having a moral focus component to our curriculum. Relationships truly come first at our school and have always been more highly valued than the curriculum and testing.
Why is it important that lower income children can attend schools of choice?
Do I even have time to cover it all?! Schools of choice allow students to have opportunities in learning that they might not otherwise receive. Depending on a student’s home district and school, students may receive a wonderful education or they may be left with a school that is struggling and unable to provide the best education possible. Schools of choice allow students and families an opportunity to participate in their education. They can choose the school, they are able to get involved in something they believe in, and they become part of a larger community.