Lori is one of the most passionate and dedicated educators I’ve come across and I’ve been teaching for more than two decades. For example, Lori dresses up in costume to drive the points of her lessons home to her group of third graders, here in Denver. She even uses accents to add authenticity to her costumes. This not only thrills her students, but captures their attention so fully, that they are engaged in learning with active listening and finding learning fun. Making learning fun is no longer easy in this age of pushing the child past his/her developmental readiness. Third grade is much like yesterday’s fifth grade, and the pressure rolls downhill, as today’s first grader is expected to learn what a typical third grader was expected to learn barely several years ago. Lori is one of those teachers who is always going the extra mile when opportunities arise. She is present when our school has its tough times and its celebrations. Lori brings the love of learning into her students’ lives on the daily. If I could time travel, I’d go back to be a third grader in her class in an instant.
This year, Oakland’s MI-A program received a caseload suitable for 3 teachers. When we were unsuccessful to hire a 3rd teacher the primary teacher quit. No judgement on her, she was a first year teacher and more than half of her 13 students have high needs. In January, Amanda came on board to fill that position. She is also a first year teacher and took on one of the toughest caseloads that I have ever seen. Since starting in January she has lost two paraprofessionals. She is managing her caseload with poise and grace and an unfaltering commitment to her students, even on her toughest days.
The support staff in the room also deserve to be recognized, because there is no way that Amanda would be able to serve her students without their support of those three paraprofessionals.
Becca is an ABA specialist and has worked diligently to bring order to chaos. She has helped Amanda establish a consistent routine and set high expectations for their students.
Prany and Cherise are the two remaining paraprofessionals, from an ever changing roster of paras that have not stayed because the classroom was too hard for them to manage. They are the constant and heart of the room since they have been there since the beginning of the year. Though they are not teachers, they should still be commended for their dedication to the students.
As a guest teacher in schools, I generally go back to schools that have a friendly staff and great support. Dora Moore K-8 is a school located in Capitol Hill and only 10 minutes from where I live. The principal, security, support staff, paraprofessionals all have been really supportive of my role as a guest teacher. One day the principal was passing out chocolate bars to staff. I cannot remember the occasion. But she saw me with some kids and give me a chocolate bar. Simple gestures like this make you feel welcome in a school.