It has been an amazing, and overwhelming holiday season. In early December, I was chosen as Jennings High School Teacher of the Year for the 2016-2017 school year, and just recently named Jeff Davis Parish Teacher of the Year. Congratulations is something very new to me, as this is basically the only award I have ever won. It is an amazing feeling to know that those that have worked with me care enough and appreciate what I do to vote for me to represent our school, but it is definitely an entirely different feeling being chosen to represent the parish due to the fact that administrators have combed through my lessons, watched me teach via recorded video, and appreciated what we have brought to Jeff Davis Parish.
I use the word we on purpose, and it is not a typo. There is a group involved and as a football and basketball coach, I appreciate the team aspect of teaching, although at sometimes it feels as if it is us versus the students. The first part of my team is my students, who spend the fifty-two minutes, sometimes twice, each day. Their ability and interest in what I had to say, as well as what we have had to discover together make learning possible. Secondly, we have a great faculty at Jennings High, where "that's not my job" doesn't really exist in our vocabulary. I credit their eagerness to have input into everything from lesson plans, to literacy strategies, to time and class management with winning this honor. There is no way I could have done this without support. Lastly, and most importantly it is all God. I cannot truthfully say that all of the congratulations have not been awesome, but without His vision and grace in my own life, I would not have been able to accomplish this with so many others. In the end, it has never been about me. I try to put other people's best interests out in front (mainly the students) as Christ did and follow His lead. So even though we have moments of silence, and do not teach the Bible in public schools, understand he drives my classroom every day. I will continue to show students and parents respect as we go forward, and I believe that builds trust that cannot be underestimated.
Someone asked me what sets me apart. I am not sure if I really do, but a few points I try to live by are as follows.
- I do not treat every student the same, they are different people. I treat everyone fair so that each individual gets the best opportunity to succeed.
- I build relationships before I worry about curriculum. It is basically the old cliche, they have to know you care before they care what you say.
- I try to teach discovery skills, instead of memorizing information. The reason for this is I can barely remember what was taught to me in high school, but I know inquiry drives me to learn today. If I can teach them how to discover, no matter what they forget later, an understanding how to discover could drive them to something creative later in life. Everyone has questions about something, I just have to teach kids how to ask the right questions.
So thanks again everyone who has congratulated me, who voted for me, or chose me based on the resources provided, it means the world to represent our school and our parish for the upcoming school year.