Let me start out by saying what an honor it is to be the Indianapolis Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Throughout my teaching career, I have encountered numerous educators worthy of such an award and I am truly humbled to be selected for this honor.
As I reflect on my journey to where I am today, I think what resonates most in my mind is that throughout my life, no matter what I’ve done, I’ve been very hard-working. I tell my students to work hard all the time no matter what the task and no matter who is looking. Being hard-working is a trait that will carry you throughout life. So, whether it was painting fences, cleaning out stalls, studying for exams, practicing free throws, planning lessons or teaching, I have done it with fidelity and to the best of my ability.
As a teacher, one of the most significant steps I’ve taken in my career was to become involved in professional organizations. I did this by attending and presenting at different conferences like National Council of Teachers of English or the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc. I stayed connected with my professors from IUPUI and formed new relationships with professors from other universities. Each year I mentor student teachers who are just beginning their educational journeys. All of this has allowed me to stay current on educational practices and contribute to the teaching profession. I also take advantage of the training opportunities I’ve had within the district. I’ve attended countless in-district and out-of-district training sessions.
What I’m most grateful for is the opportunity to teach with such a dynamic and supportive group of professional educators. Teaching is very hard to do in isolation. I have an amazing teaching partner, a supportive principal and a school full of collaborative, caring teachers. Without them I couldn’t have done this on my own.
I would like to end with advice I tell my own students. There are two things in life you have control over: your attitude and your effort. I am not sure who originally penned the advice, but it is something I truly believe. I think it has added to the success I’ve seen in the classroom. This advice comes from my years of playing sports as a high school athlete, then college athlete and now watching my own kids participate as a parent. I explain to the students if they approach each situation with a positive attitude and great effort, they are on the right path.
There are many things that frustrate me, but I do not dwell on those things. I take steps to voice my opinion and advocate for my beliefs. Even in a disheartening educational climate when legislation and decision-making might not be going my way, I walk into my classroom with a positive attitude and 100% effort. I owe it to the students and I owe it to myself.