Using Technology To Learn And Conduct Research In English Class: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

When it comes to a new strategy to improve student learning, teacher Clare Lundy has two words: “Hello, technology!”

She’s used technology to give students an organized online space to learn, where they can get information on student projects and find resources for research. After developing the website, she noticed a difference in her students’ work.

“I have seen students working on their papers more outside of class and emailing me questions – good ones! I have seen a 25 percent increase in the number of research papers submitted by the deadline,” she explains.

Improving her student’s ability to read, write, and research has been at the forefront of Ms. Lundy’s mind because of the way those skills can impact her students’ future.

“Becoming a person who seeks out the answers to problems and questions using accessible resources and compiles them in a coherent way is a necessary attribute of anyone working in a 21st-century world,” she says.

That’s why she “agonizes” over teaching research and why she became an English teacher – because she believes in the power of education and great teaching to create good trajectories for all students.

“I am on a mission to not only help my students learn to read, write, and communicate well,” she says. “But I also hope to instill in them the values that will allow them to become hard workers, innovators, and problem solvers so that they can improve all aspects of their lives.”

High Expectations Move Students Toward Success: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

Jennifer Moore expects great things from her third-grade students.

“My students know that no matter what their current academic or social level may be, I require them to exceed beyond the norm.”

Although third-graders might seem young, Ms. Moore explains that holding students to high standards and teaching them about things that are relevant to their lives at a young age prepares them for a future even beyond high school.

“As an educator, I am responsible for motivating the students and making learning relevant to their lives,” She says, “This, in turn, helps students determine a career path in life. I am passionate about helping students grow both academically and socially by tailoring their attitudes toward learning, developing both short- and long-term educational needs and goals, and giving students daily success.”

For her self-contained third-grade class this means excellence in all subject areas: reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies. Each subject, in her view, serves as “building blocks” that move students forward in life toward success.

And for Ms. Moore, that’s the crux of what education is about – succeeding in school, in career, and in life.

“Education is the soul of success. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.’”

Music Education Hits All the Right Notes: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

For Lindsey Hagan, there are many ways to raise student achievement.

“If we all integrate and collaborate to grow children emotionally, behaviorally, and academically – I believe students will go further in life,” she says.

That’s why she works to build a holistic approach in her classroom, and she makes sure that her approach complements the learning happening in other classes.

“I explore creative ways to support the classroom standards through music. This team approach embraces the mentality that it takes a village to raise a child.” Ms. Hagan explains, “If we all integrate and collaborate to grow children emotionally, behaviorally, and academically – I believe students will go further in life.”

And her subject predisposes her students to such integration. Studies show that learning music develops students’ brains, and spurs emotional and behavioral growth. That’s why Ms. Hagan is passionate about teaching music, it gives her students a “powerful tool that can determine the trajectory of their life.”

“It [music] is connected to all subjects and will increase student achievement in their overall cognitive development.” She says.

In that way, as she grows her students’ musicianship, she is also growing their cognitive and social skills, developing the brain capacity and skills in life to grow and thrive.

Empowering Students to Take the Lead: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

Martha Shaffer empowers her students to take the lead.

Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer sometimes switches up the way the classroom is set up. Instead of standing at the head, lecturing students, she encourages students to teach the lesson, provide each other feedback, and learn from each other. The end result? Engaged learning.

“It impacts student learning in a positive way because all students become involved and love assessing their peers,” Colonel Shaffer explains, “They demonstrate mastery of the subject matter.”

Colonel Shaffer’s path in education has been shaped by her own experiences. She remembers how much her community gave to allow her to become a successful United States Air Force officer, and she teaches ROTC with the goal of supporting her students to a bright future. JROTC gives students “tools that help them become productive citizens,” she explains.

Over the course of the year in Colonel Shaffer’s classroom, her students grow in these life skills and work hard toward their goals. And this progression is what compels Colonel Shaffer to keep teaching.

“I absolutely love seeing the growth and maturity in students as they grasp a new concept or show pride in teaching a concept to another student,” she says.

The Challenge and Rewards of Teaching: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

Dana Casey loves the challenge of teaching students something new.

“A student saying ‘This is the first time I’ve ever understood this concept,” she says, “is the most rewarding feeling.”

Ms. Casey works hard to make sure her students understand how to read and write because she knows the skills her students learn in her classroom will be essential, regardless of their career choices.

“To succeed in any field,” she says, “one must understand effective communication… no matter what career path he or she chooses, he or she will have to speak to people, write reports, emails, applications, and read!”

She leads her kids to success through her instruction, but she also works collaboratively to help her coworkers excel. She knew that the standards implementation process was going to be a big challenge. So she got to work, as her district’s lead teacher to make that rollout smooth.

She led professional development opportunities at her school, as well as, the district level to help others plan for these changes. By working together and preparing, she was able to both support others and learn from her fellow educators.

“The biggest challenge” Ms. Casey admits, “was studying and understanding for myself so I was prepared to help and lead others.”

Through careful preparation and excitement for teaching students, Ms. Casey helps her students develop the skills they will need for their future and she supports her colleagues along the way.

Teaching for All Students: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

All really does mean all for Leticia Skae.

“I’m passionate about teaching because I came to this country as an immigrant and I had wonderful teachers who guided me, cared for me, empowered me.” She says, “I want for my students to get the same wonderful educational experience.”

How does she ensure a wonderful educational experience for every student? Careful planning, accountability through data, and collaboration with other teachers.

“When I first arrived at Hillsboro High School, my executive principal announced to the entire faculty that I was hired to raise our English 2 literacy scores.” Ms. Skae said, “After I picked my stomach up off of the floor from the pressure, I began my plan.”

She mapped out the next year thoughtfully and purposefully, working with other teachers to raise the school’s English EOC scores, track data across English classes, and create common assessments. As Ms. Skae worked with her fellow teachers, the scores began to rise and her own teaching improved.

“I learned so much from other teachers and I was able to use these tools within my own classes.” She says.

Three years in, Hillsboro’s English 2 EOC scores dramatically improved, topping the high school scores for the district, showing significant student growth. These results are what keeps Ms. Skae going.

“The best part of teaching,” she says, “is watching students grow.”

Mastering Robotics and Pre-engineering: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

Pre-engineering and robotics. Two subjects that cause intellectual cowering among even some of the highly-educated.

But in Brad Gentry’s classroom, these two notoriously difficult subjects are accessible and, he argues, important for success.

“The subjects I teach impact my student’s future,” he explains, “each of my classes requires considerable amounts of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students learn to think logically and critically about a problem and then follow a process to solve the problem.”

But it’s not always easy. So, Mr. Gentry experiments with different types of classroom strategies. One new method he’s trying is peer review.

“The peer review process adds a new depth to the classroom because now students can see other projects, improve their project based on what they see, and better recognize mistakes when they occur,” he says.

Mr. Gentry loves helping his students create new things and setting them up for future success. He teaches robotics and engineering, in part, because of the growing workforce demands those type of workers.

“If America is to reemerge as a manufacturing hub,” he says, “then, she will need trained employees to design the factories, machines, and products, as well as, needing robotics specialists to build and program the robots to perform many of the functions in the facilities.”

And even, for a student who decide not to pursue a future in robotics or engineering, he feels confident that his class will still give them the tools for success.

“The skills used [in robotics and engineering] will remain constant in any career my students choose.”

A Case for High Standards: A Tennessee Student Story

By: Kristina Standridge

As my last semester of my undergrad career starts in a few short days I can’t help but think back four years ago to the last semester of my senior year of high school. What a thrilling and exciting time this was! The time that I had dreamed about since I was a little girl was finally here – what university would I decide on? What career would be just the right fit for me?

Since I graduated from a small rural high school in East Tennessee, I knew one thing for sure – a big university was absolutely out of the question. I applied and was accepted to Lincoln Memorial University. The moment I stepped foot on campus it felt like home. I knew right then and there that I had made the right decision when it came to what postsecondary school to attend.

I was in my freshman composition class when it hit me that I was not at all prepared for college. I can remember very vividly sitting in Avery Hall on the second floor in one of the classrooms and my professor Dr. Brackmann talking about an upcoming assignment. It was one that was supposed to be simple to complete, one that she said we had all the prerequisites to complete this assignment in our high school English class. I remember thinking, this lady was crazy. For once in my life, I had no idea what someone was talking about. It all sounded like a foreign language to me.

Not having the nerve to speak up in front of my peers, afraid of sounding unprepared, I would wait until after class to let my professor know that I was completely lost and needed some kind of guidance. Dr. Brackmann graciously met with me once or twice a week during her office hours to have a one-to-one conversation about that week’s class. These conversations were basically tutoring, catching me up on everything that I should have been prepared for in high school. To overcome this I would first have to ask for help, and I was blessed with a professor that was willing to go the extra mile to see me succeed in her class. I would have to also reason with myself that it was okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s okay to struggle and not understand something the first time the material was presented.

In high school, I never had to work for my grades because most everything came naturally to me. I never had more than a couple nights of homework a month in all four years of high school. Most teachers in my high school seemed to be there to be a friend, which is fine as long as they are your instructor first and foremost. I was never pushed to try harder or given differentiated instruction to ensure that I would be ready to tackle the first semester of my college career. I can remember sitting in classes that were an hour and a half long and if all the work was done in 45 minutes I was allowed to go to the agriculture department for the rest of the time. It would have been much more helpful and beneficial if my teachers made me sit in class and given a harder assignment that made me struggle a little bit. Goodness knows I have in college.

Now, I am less than 150 days away from being the first in my family to graduate college. I have chosen a career as a special education teacher. As I reflect on my experience, I believe it’s important that a student has high expectations for themselves, but even more important that teachers have high expectations for their students. Students need to know that their teachers are there to be a mentor and to push them to achieve more than what they thought they were capable of achieving.

As a future educator, I plan to expect more and really push my own students. Two sayings have really helped me in my college years and I plan on using them with my future students. They are: “Shoot for the moon and, even if you miss, you land among the stars” and “Anything is possible if you apply yourself and want it badly enough.”

Engagement and Differentiated Instruction Help Students Love Math: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

Most of Amanda Nixon’s students enter her class either loving or hating math.

Those who hate math are students who typically say that they just don’t get it. But Ms. Nixon has a solution for them – or rather, many solutions.

“I work to build every child’s confidence in math by allowing and encouraging them to explore different solution paths,” she explains, “Math is often taught as a set of procedures, which does not provide opportunity for different learners or different levels of math learners. I have differentiated activities for each math lesson.”

By working in groups and empowering her students to present, explain, and dispute different ways of finding the right answer, she engages her class and helps them learn more.

But student engagement doesn’t stop here. Ms. Nixon asks her students to assess themselves before and after covering a topic. Students can rank themselves from novice to expert in their mastery of that specific area of study. Student self-assessment allows Ms. Nixon to reflect on her teaching, but also has a benefit for her students.

“It encourages students to be reflective about their own learning. They give more thought to their learning outcomes and therefore, take responsibility for their learning,” she says.

And by the end of the year in Ms. Nixon’s class, barely any students claim they hate math.

El regocijo de superación: The Exhilaration of Overcoming

By: Julio Salazar

My Tennessee education story began in September of 2003 when I arrived in Morristown after leaving my native Mexico. From the very first moment I stepped into Lincoln Heights Elementary School (LHES), I struggled. I had no prior English-language skills apart from saying, “Yes, no, and bathroom.” The language barrier was so great, that I accidentally presented myself on the first day by my middle name, as Julio Cesar rather than Julio Salazar; thus, assigned the number two in class. That first day, I quietly cried in the back of the room, lost, scared, isolated, and entirely disoriented. My only friend for weeks was a pocket-sized English-to-Spanish dictionary, which I frantically flipped through trying to catch words or phrases during instruction. I missed chunks of the regular curriculum due to my English as a Second Language (ESL) courses, creating an achievement gap which grew more difficult to close each day. My first-grade card had F’s, D’s, and one C.  I began to fall behind all while desperately wishing to learn and know more. Donna Rasch saw my desperation. She made me throw away my dictionary, knowing I wanted to learn, she removed the crutch which kept me back. Every day for weeks she stayed with me at the school, helping me catch up to the curriculum that I had missed while in ESL. She read with me and wrote with me, taking what she did during the day and personalizing it for me. The fire to learn grew inside me, always craving more information.

Once finished, she would drive me to my house, knowing that my mom worked two jobs and simply could not pick me up. She did this out of simple generosity. No overtime. Just teacher love. By the end of that second-grade year, I had made the LHES Honor Roll. As a silent promise to Mrs. Rasch, I strove never again to score below a B. I kept that promise for the next 10 years in Tennessee schools (admittedly, I made one C+ in a math course at Notre Dame, sorry Mrs. Rasch!). Now retired to a beach somewhere in South Carolina, Mrs. Rasch and I remain dear friends, we email, and she comes over for dinner anytime she is back in town. This second-grade teacher became much more than a teacher; she became a friend, a mentor, a confidant, and my superhero. This is the value of all teachers. This was the value of Mrs. Rasch. For her and all teachers, I am eternally grateful.

Empowering Students to Own their Education: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

In the beginning, parent-teacher conferences were not working for Cathy Whitehead, the 2015-16 Tennessee Teacher of the Year.

“I would talk for hours, in 15-minute intervals with parents, about student work … and the prime player in the scene – the student – wasn’t even present!” she says.

Ms. Whitehead decided this was an opportunity lost. She began her career in education six years ago with the belief that a good education opens doors. As a teacher, she looked for ways to open those doors on a daily basis, teaching her students how to read, solve tough problems, collaborate with others, and communicate effectively, empowering them with the tools to take the lead with their education.

“No other profession lets you touch and change lives in such a profound way,” Ms. Whitehead says.

So last year, she decided it was time to change her parent-teacher conferences. She piloted student-led conferences, with unequivocal success. Students were taking ownership of their learning. They presented what they knew, explained test results, and fielded tough questions about their education.

“They absolutely floored me,” she admits.

Now, Cathy Whitehead’s parent-teacher conferences are student-parent-teacher conferences and she’s keeping it that way.

“I’ve learned the importance of, whenever possible, turning the reins over to the students,” she says.

Thanks to Ms. Green, I Plan to Put My Best Foot Forward: A Tennessee Success Story

By: Cortia Hibbler

My teacher inspires me to be the best student that I can be in school. My name is Cortia Hibbler. I’m in the third grade. I’m a student at Granville T. Woods Academy of Innovation, in Memphis, TN. My teacher’s name is Ms. Green, and she is very special to me. She inspired me to always put my best foot forward and to never give up on my life goals. My future goals include graduating from Harvard university with a degree in medicine and education.

Cortia Hibbler’s Tennessee success story won the Department of Education’s third annual essay competition for grades 3-5. Read the entire essay on the blog, Classroom Chronicles.

I Will Never Give Up: A Tennessee Success Story

By: Rawan Haj-Hussein

I will never give up. That is what my teacher inspired me to live with this motto. Now, I know how to do variables, percentages, charts, equations, PEMDAS, and much more! I know that things don’t come easy in life, yet I know now to keep trying. I owe it all to my 6th grade math teacher, Mrs. Sutton.

 Rawan Haj-Hussein’s Tennessee success story won the Department of Education’s third annual essay competition for grades 6-8. Read the entire essay on their blog, Classroom Chronicles.

My Teacher Inspired My Academic Growth: A Tennessee Success Story

By: Cailey Curry

When you meet a teacher that can actually challenge your brain and make you think independently, you know that you’ve stumbled upon someone who does exceptionally well at, not only teaching, but also helping a student grow in the process. This is the exact moment when you realize that this class, this teacher, is going to be the one you will carry with you throughout all of your educational career. Throughout school, teachers are placed on a scale of best to worst in every student’s mind. While it’s true that everyone has their own favorite teacher, it is rare that you are given the privilege to be taught by your favorite for three consecutive years…

Cailey Curry’s Tennessee success story won the Department of Education’s third annual essay competition for grades 9-12. Read the entire essay on their blog, Classroom Chronicles.

The Scientific Method Is the Center of this Tennessee Classroom: A Tennessee Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

“The greatest lesson from science is that of the scientific method,” says Bonnie Lowery, a Maryville middle school science teacher.

In her classroom, she highlights the scientific method – not just because it is part of Tennessee’s science standards but because it lays out how to solve problems and how to generate knowledge, through observing, hypothesizing, testing, and analyzing. The scientific method is continuous learning and critical thinking wrapped up in one.

Continuous learning is also a good way to describe Ms. Lowery’s classroom. Her students are actively engaged in learning science – conducting experiments, dissecting animals, launching hot air balloons, and recording their results.

Ms. Lowery is energetic and passionate about teaching science and eager to try new strategies in class. This year, that strategy is one-to-one technology. Since all her students have iPads or laptops, she works to use technology as a tool for collaboration, not just between students in her classroom, but also with the scientific community around the globe.

The combination of the technology strategy and hands-on experiments allows her students to take charge of their learning and see beyond the walls of the classroom. And that’s why Ms. Lowery is passionate about her job. She has the chance to give her students the tools to realize their potential.

Excitement about Algebra: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

Most people don’t jump out of bed, excited to teach math to teenagers, but Kyle Prince is an exception. He wakes up every day with a passion for his subject and his high school students because he believes his enthusiasm makes a significant difference. “Excitement about a subject transforms the way students perceive learning,” he says.

Dr. Prince reflects on his teaching often and implements new strategies to better explain ideas and help his student grasp new concepts faster and more deeply. One new strategy he is implementing is shifting from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered one. Instead of students working individually at their desks, he’s shifted his class into small groups, encouraging them to share, explore, and discuss math concepts and ideas.

“These changes have made a significant difference in my students’ ability to reason and make sense of problems,” he explains.

And if his students can learn algebra and increase their problem-solving skills, he’s confident they will have a brighter future. “Math allows us to understand the world around us and make sense of things,” he says.

Education, the Great Equalizer: A Teacher Success Story

By: Expect More, Achieve More

To Curtis Herring, education is “the greatest equalizer society has.” This view was formed by his upbringing and his own public education, and it has inspired his 22-year career in teaching. Mr. Herring works hard to make sure his lessons are accessible and applicable for all his students. And while students might not see how a subject like chemistry affects their lives now, he is confident that his class will positively impact his students’ lives long after high school.

“We don’t know what our future holds for us, but having the ability to think critically, and solve problems is irreplaceable. That’s what chemistry does – above and beyond learning how to write chemical formulas and balance equations,” he explains.

The potential to empower students with new knowledge drives Mr. Herring, and he is often challenged to find adequate resources to give students all the “real world problem-solving abilities” they need to succeed. Meeting this challenge forced Curtis to get out of his comfort zone, collaborating with other teachers to find the best resources through teacher networks and conferences, and securing more funding for his science classroom through writing grants. But that struggle is worth it, he says, when you’re helping students to attain educational empowerment.

Reading for Life: A Student Success Story

By: Ana Delgado

During recess, a girl sat silently, reading her book in her small corner of the classroom. While everyone else was talking and playing around, she was always there, fully immersed and lost into the content that she was reading. This girl is me. I never thought that my perspective and appreciation of literature could grow, but with one teacher, it grew immensely. However, in the seventh grade, my ELA teacher, Mr. Ward, went above and beyond to not only increase my strength as a reader, but to also enhance my love for reading itself.

One day in seventh grade, out of my peripheral vision, I saw Mr. Ward scribbling away on a notepad while we were working independently. Afterwards, he walked over to me and handed me the note with a list of books on it, and told me a little bit about each book. My eyes were wide as he read the list to me. Jane Eyre and Sense and Sensibility? I wasn’t too sure about his recommendations, as I thought they were too advanced for me and were exclusively for adults. I was shocked that he thought these foreign novels would be a good match for me. I remember that on that day, I decided that I would start reading books that would challenge me.

I started reading books like Flowers for Algernon and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and I realized that there were amazing books beyond mediocre YA romance novels. The books I started reading had a deeper meaning to them, which made me think, and every now and then, question everything. For example, in eighth grade, I read 1984, which made me frequently stop and really think about life, and how it must be lived. Mr. Ward continued to recommend books for me, and asked me about what I thought of each novel that I read. Mr. Ward challenged me to read classic pieces of literature, In retrospect, Mr. Ward, planted the seed that made me challenge myself with books that impacted my life.

Mr. Ward grew my appetite for reading. These two things have helped me in many of my classes, and will continue to do so throughout college, and really any job that I pursue. He has impacted my life, and has made me appreciate reading so much, and I will be forever grateful of this.

Reading and Comprehending: A Student Success Story

By: Mackenzie Henley

Comma Catastrophe!: A Student Success Story

By: Deion Hammond

Although most may think of me as an intelligent student able to process many subjects, I have met my fair share of bumps on my academic road. Whether it be long division, or how to play a low B flat on the trumpet, I have been able to learn most problems I encounter. There was one exception, however, the usage of commas. Comma splices, run-on sentences, and the like were a commodity in my papers. No teacher had helped or taught me more about commas. I had almost gone mad with the sheer amount of red marks on my paper relating to commas. A whole two years later, I was assigned a fifth-grade teacher I will never forget: Ms. Katie Dane, for math and language.

After I had turned in my first paper, Ms. Katie had immediately noticed my difficulties with commas and offered her assistance after class. I accepted and she quickly reviewed commas for me. When I was still puzzled on the subject she told me not to worry about it. The next day, true to her word, while others read from their Language textbooks she gave me one-on-one tutoring over commas. When I went back home I carried with me scrap workbook pages over commas to test my newfound knowledge. Although at the time it was tiresome and grueling, I now understand why she gave me this extra work.

A month later, I was a master of comma usage. Classmates went to me before anyone else regarding issues relating to commas. I happily helped them as Ms. Katie had helped me. I was greatly inspired by Ms. Katie’s guidance and assistance to set aside her own personal time to help me, and I have tried my best to do the same for my fellow classmates. I am glad to report that I am still great with commas and I owe it all to Ms. Katie.

Ms. Katie is a great teacher whose influence still resonates throughout my conscience. I listen to every word like it is my life’s duty ever since her intervention. I haven’t had a single major problem on a scale comparable to that of the comma catastrophe afterwards. I am eternally grateful for her getting me back on track, and I hope this essay can repay the lasting impact she has had on me.

Lights, Camera, Writing!: A Student Success Story

By: Cardin McVey

Chocolate Lollipops and AP Calculus: A Student Success Story

By: Preston Nicely

Advanced Placement Calculus is regarded as the highest and perhaps most challenging mathematics class available for students to take during their high school career; moreover, in this rigorous course students are exposed to a plethora of intricate mathematical concepts which, to some individuals, may seem irrelevant, impractical, or downright confusing. However, in the eyes of a future engineer like myself, these topics are essential to the functions of the natural world and how objects will physically interact with one another.

In my junior year of high school I was taking AP Calculus with Dr. Stephanie Ogden- a teacher who been teaching Calculus for several years both at the University of Tennessee and my high school. Because of her extensive background knowledge in this subject, she was able to instruct my class in very eccentric ways in order to help us clearly grasp the subjects of calculus.

At the time we were studying a topic known as “area of polar curves” which can be a concept that is difficult to imagine graphically within the mind; therefore, because of the complexity of the subject, Dr. Ogden proposed a project to my class involving the creation of chocolate lollipops in order for us to better grasp the concept of polar functions and their areas. Yes…chocolate lollipops.

The result of this radical project came in the form of both a yummy treat and my intellectual growth on the topic of polar functions. Through this experience, Dr. Ogden went above and beyond in terms of buying expensive materials and connecting a difficult subject to a unique class project; moreover, any ordinary calculus teacher could be very tempted to breeze straight through a rigorous concept and leave their students bewildered. In my situation, I was fortunate to have Dr. Ogden who was so dedicated to her duties as a teacher, that she did not cease to stop explaining polar curves until everyone understood them completely.

Ultimately, this experience in my junior calculus class will indirectly aid in my future as an engineer. While I most certainly won’t be making chocolate lollipops as an engineer, I will be faced with difficult concepts and tasks that I will now be able to approach with determination and resourcefulness. While it may seem absurd, I feel as if these skills would have been much harder to obtain had it not been for Dr. Stephanie Ogden and her chocolate lollipop project.

Opening Eyes to Reading: A Student Success Story

By: Reagan Guess

Every teacher you learn from leaves you with knowledge, experience and impression and helps you get ready for the next year and future school years. My third-grade teacher at Fairmont Elementary, Amy Rollins, went above and beyond to help me during the school year. She helped me come up with a solution to my vision problem and helped me prepare and even read books better and understand the book. The help from Ms. Rollins will help far in the future as I go further into my education.

On February 27, 2013, I was diagnosed with a visual processing delay, binocular amblyopia, which causes me to see only half the letters. My teacher helped me recognize my problem and help me get through it. She was very patient and understanding of my problem and would help me read books and was there for me along the way. Every book was a challenge, but she helped me read and get through it.

Ms. Rollins also enrolled me into the 504 Plan which helps students like me who have a physical or mental challenge with learning and attention issues and participate in the general education. With the 504 Plan I can receive expanded tests, which enlarge the letters to help me be able to read it. Once we did this my grades went from being low to making great grades! Ms. Rollins and 504 helped me pass the third grade with flying colors. This helped me earn the most improved student of the year award!

Leadership and Innovation in Fifth Grade: A Success Story

By: Jordan Guthrie

From the Classroom, to the Local Paper, to Duke: A Student Success Story

By: Emily Huffstetler

For most students, the moment the bell rings for summer, they never speak to their teachers again. Usually this applies to me as well, but last year, it didn’t. Ms. Dirmeyer, my seventh-grade Language Arts teacher, still keeps in touch with me, even though she’s not my teacher anymore. She takes interest in my writing, and has done several things to help me improve.

Ms. Dirmeyer sends me emails with writing tips, along with worksheets directed towards improving my writing. She has nice things to say about my writing like “I like how…” and “It looks great, Emily.” Earlier this year, when I told her that I was applying to be my school’s correspondent for the local newspaper, she encouraged me by saying that I would be an excellent candidate. She also congratulated me afterwards when it was announced that I had gotten the job.

Near the end of last school year, I was accepted into the Duke TIP gifted program. They had a three-week summer camp, and I really wanted to take the 3D printing class; there was one problem: It cost $3,800, and I only had six weeks to come up with the money! I immediately got to work, knowing there wasn’t much time. I helped my parents and grandparents clean out their garages and basements, and had a huge yard sale that brought in over one thousand dollars. However, there was still a lot more money to go, so I set up a “GoFundMe” fundraiser page. Ms. Dirmeyer was quick to respond by donating. Thankfully, I was able to raise the money in time. While I was at the camp, Ms. Dirmeyer and I emailed each other, and she was happy to hear that I was having fun and learning new things.

How could a student ask for more from a teacher? Ms. Dirmeyer has given me tips that I will continue to use in my writing. She has boosted my writing confidence, and she’s always there when I need help.

The Wonderful Mrs. McBride: A Student Success Story

By: Sadie Collins

Mrs. McBride…Oh, what to say about the wonderful Mrs.McBride? Mrs. McBride motivated me to pursue knowledge outside of the classroom to challenge me. I hate to say this, but school has always come easy for me. But then Mrs. McBride came along, and set high expectations for me.

She encouraged me to enter into the National History Day competition, and persuaded me to do something a bit out of my comfort zone: write a full-length research paper. (MLA format included!) This research paper was uncharted territory for me, and… It. Was. Terrifying.

She dedicated her free time to helping her little band of over-achievers. She stayed with us after school, always there and always willing to help us when we struggled. And, trust me, we struggled. I enjoyed the challenge that Mrs. McBride presented to me, and she motivated me every step of the way. When I had trouble with the format of my paper, she was there to stay even longer with me to help and explain what to do.

Mrs. McBride was also relentless in finding me the answers to all of my questions, even if she wasn’t the one who knew the answers. About halfway through my paper, I found myself a bit paranoid that I was writing the whole essay wrong. She supported me, looking over the paper again and again. Still though, I was terrified at the thought that I could be messing up at something. This was entirely new for me! To clear my mind, she emailed and contacted professors, making sure to answer any and all questions that I had. Mrs. McBride inspired me to seek out education, even outside of school. It’s because of her that I have a respect for research, and I don’t mind doing my own. She was the one that pushed me, that encouraged my struggle because she knew that it meant I was truly learning. And, for that I’m forever thankful for her.

To Infinity and Beyond: A Student Success Story

By: Reid Scott

Crystal Clear: A Student Success Story

By: Ashley Meade

A hand reached down with answers in mind.
A mouth spoke loud with words that were kind.
“Try this instead” that respecter had said.
“And if you would, explain if you can.”

So I took her advice and worked very hard.
I made, to myself, a vow that I would get it correct
For if I did, she had promised, I would receive a reward,
And from that moment forward it sparked great intellect.

Then what, you may ask, was this motivating reward?
And to that, I would answer, would be a future to adore.
See, with knowledge comes power, and power fuels will,

So with that will I take it and forge my future still.
Right now it seems huge as the years stretch so long,
But now is the time when it should matter the most.
That day, what my teacher had said really meant:
“Never give up for when you know what you’re doing a path will be forged
And it will lead you along.”

So now, I believe, is not the time to sit idle,
Instead it’s the time you should be your own model.
Do nothing at all unless you work to complete.
Follow these steps and your future you’ll achieve!

So to that teacher I say “Thank you”
Because now my future can arrive never harmed.
I can help myself lead with the ghost of her words.
That will lead me to achieve a set path.

Now I know you may think that the future’s unset,
But these words can help your future from being unkempt.
These words hold meaning as well as great power,
And as I said once before this power fuels will.

So for the next time to come, before you conclude,
Think of this meaning, and let it hold true:
Remember your future and how quickly it comes.
Let your will welcome it and meet it with virtue.

With that one last thought I will leave you with this:
A thing to remember, as my teacher once said,
Is that the future matters and it’s all yours to mend.
So as it comes near think of your actions,
Because when the time arrives you will see them pieced together to form one big picture, crystal clear.

My Teacher Went Above and Beyond: A Student Success Story

By: Nicholas Reynolds

My teacher, Mrs. McCrary, was a teacher that went above and beyond to help me learn something new. She taught about five other students and me how to do middle school algebra to challenge us and keep us from being bored in class. Also, when I got done with my work, she gave me more challenging work like dividing fractions, algebra, and percentages. She used her own money to buy a seventh grade math textbook so she could keep helping me advance in math. She did twice the work she had to because she took time after her normal lesson to teach me more advanced things from the seventh grade textbook, while the other kids practiced fourth grade work.

She helped me because school always came naturally to me, but she challenged me. She took her own time and organized an after school math group. She let me and other students go to after school math and let us either teach or she would give us more challenging work. There were many more things she did to help me be challenged!

I am deaf in one ear so she was always loud so I could hear, especially if I forgot my hearing aid. She made me feel different from the other kids, but not because of my hearing loss but because of my math skills. It felt more relaxed in her class because she spoke loudly and I didn’t have to ask “what did you say?” ever.

All my other teachers were good but for me she really went above and beyond! She made me feel like I could accomplish anything in math. She taught me how to push myself. Mrs. McCrary was an amazing teacher!

“Thank you, Ms. Barrell” : A Student Success Story

By: Weston Downing

Soaring: A Student Success Story

By: Yeleeya Li

My brain is confused,
Nothing seems to make sense.
I give up.

There is a tap on my shoulder.
I look up- my teacher
She smiles and says:

“You should carry the one,
Add up the sum,
Multiply that by three,
And you’ll get the height of the tree.”

All of her words are mumbled and jumbled.
I sigh and look down at my shoes.
She kneels down so that I am facing her.
She looks at me in the eyes
“I know you can do this.”
I am all quiet.

The children are all running and playing
I am all alone, sitting on the curb.
She slowly sits down beside me.
“What’s wrong?” she asks gently.

I do not answer.
My head is still spinning around the problem.
She reads my mind.
“I know you can do this as long as you try.”
I shook my head.

“Why don’t you come inside?
I’ll help you go over the problems.”
Looking back at the playground,
I followed her inside the school.

For the next weeks, while the other children were playing outside,
I studied my head off.
Numbers became words, phrases, then sentences.
The world around me made much more sense.

While I was doing that,
She kept a careful watch on me
Guiding me, helping me,
Showing me the way.

As I was soaring higher and higher,
She is always next to me,
And we are still soaring today…