Shining Star Awards - Honoring our Teachers
The SCSF salutes state charter school teachers who have gone over and above during school closures! Our teachers have shown their flexibility, creativity, and compassion to reach their students. Often, these teachers are supporting their own families sheltering at home, and they are working tirelessly to help Georgia's children continue learning.
We received 300 nominations for teachers who have done amazing things for their students during school closures!
Teachers who are selected as Shining Stars will receive a $50 Amazon gift card and recognition by the State Charter Schools Foundation. Thank you for our sponsors, Cellairis and FEV Tutor, for making this possible.
The State Charter Schools Foundation honors the following 25 Shining Star Teachers!
Alex Lovering, Southwest Georgia STEM Charter School - Kindergarten
Nomination: She has called her students, made posters for them, she has made sure almost everyday that they are doing good and let's them know how much she loves them. She wrote them a book about what they will be when they grow up
She's a great & loving teacher. She goes over and beyond for her students. For example, she picked up my baby's packet from the school and brought it to me. She didn't have to do it but she did & I'm forever thankful for her! She calls to check on my son & writes me at least once . . . She's the absolute best & has a heart of gold. We love her so much!!
She has called and checked on my baby every chance she can. She has reached out ever since the school has closed.
Alisha Johnson, Genesis Innovation Academy for Girls - 4th grade ELA & Social Studies
Nomination: I am nominating Mrs. Johnson because throughout this virtual learning experience she has had great communication with parents. She lays out each assignment and lesson plan for the week so well and clear. During Zoom meetings she ensures the kids are engaged and helps if needed. Also she makes sure to include an affirmation or inspirational quote each week for the students.
Amy Pittman, Pataula Charter Academy - 1st Grade
Nomination: Over the course of the school closure, Mrs. Pittman has continued to make learning fun, engaging and exciting for her first graders! She mailed postcards to her students, along with a coloring page she drew. She checks in with them using Zoom meetings that have a theme (last week they had a PJ party)! . . . . One unique . . . lesson was a mad scientist Zoom meeting with students. They listened to a book and then reviewed vocabulary and cause/effect, along with a Go Noodle about the scientific method. Mrs. Pittman has completely transformed her kitchen into a mad scientist lab and then demonstrated how to make cloud dough!
Ashley Council, Ivy Preparatory Academy - 6th grade ELA
Nomination: Ms. Council is an amazing teacher. She is filled with compassion, care and conviction. A teacher with a heart for students, in particular African American girls - she has transformed the cultural of Ivy in the most positive way. She has started the Ivy Step Team and has produced excellent scholars who score well on standardized tests. Her students admire her because they understand that Ms. Council has their best interest at heart. . . . She has continued distance learning, helping scholars throughout this difficult time! She is truly deserving of this award!
Bobby Magee, International Academy of Smyrna - 2nd grade
Nomination: In an effort to deepen the learning process for his students, Mr. Magee arranged a virtual guest speaker for his 2nd grade class. He had a police officer to join his class online for a Q & A session with an essential worker. This supported our school's effort in a service learning project, and students were asked to write thank you letters to essential workers in our community, and administration plans to email the letters to each organization. Scholars had the opportunity to further understand the roles and responsibilities of a police officer, make real-world connections, as well as thank him for his service. It was an awesome experience for our scholars.
Brandy Clements, School for Arts Infused Learning (SAIL) - 1st grade
Nomination: Mrs. Clements always goes above and beyond! She is so encouraging and always has kind words for the scholars. She is so warm in how she handles the scholars. During distance learning, she has continued her above and beyond approach to teaching! She checks in daily with students and parents to make sure that we are getting the help we need!! . . . . She even made a special porch dropoff gift (within social distance guidelines) to encourage the scholars!!
She is just amazing!! She was even so sweet as to drop gifts off for each child so that they knew she was still thinking about them. . . . My daughter especially enjoyed the one on one sessions that she got to have where Brandy Clements took time to meet with her students individually via teleconferencing. Those students got to pick the activity that they did, whether it be homework help or coloring, just talking to them about what they've got going on. . . so she still had a very strong connection with our kids.
Caleb Land, Utopian Academy for the Arts - 7th & 8th grade Social Studies
Nomination: Upon initial notice of the Coronavirus early March, Mr. Caleb Land initiated several innovative solutions to ensure that students enrolled at Utopian had a solid instructional experience, if there was a need to incorporate a blended/virtual model. Since the implementation of our virtual educational program, Mr. Land has been very instrumental with serving as an informal-technology specialist. He has researched best-practices, online resources, and has led several workshops for teachers to ensure a seamless process for both students and teachers.
Danielle VanHousen, Southwest Georgia STEM Charter School - Special Education
Nomination: Mrs. VanHousen has gone above and beyond the call of duty! My oldest son is high-functioning autistic and does not do well with changes in routine. Mrs. VanHousen has contacted us daily, not just about schoolwork, but to see how we are doing and if there's anything she can do to help. Before the shelter in place order, she even visited a few times, which helped provide a sense of normalcy in a time that has been far from normal. We are so blessed to have her in our lives!
Ebony Dames, SLAM Academy of Atlanta - Kindergarten
Nomination: Ms. Dames has gone above and beyond during the school closure. She has been intentional with her instruction and has worked hard to make sure she is making content accessible to all families. In addition to her regularly schedule Zoom meetings, she posts recordings of herself reading stories for parents to access and read along with their children if they do not have access to books at home. She also began programming in weekly live sessions for "Show-and-Tell" as well as "Dance Break" which the entire school now participates in. While she has maintained high standards academically, she recognizes the importance, now more than ever, to continue to build relationships with her students and families. In addition, she hosts weekly office hours to connect with parents, get feedback and make necessary adjustments to meet individual family needs. We are grateful to have her in the SLAM Family and she deserves to be honored by the entire state charter school community.
Felecia Tucker-Jones, International Charter Academy of Georgia - 4th grade
Nomination: Ms. Jones is giving all the information which is so useful for online teaching to the teachers who are not good at web tools! Also, she dedicates her time not only teaching the classes, but also supporting the students and teachers who need supports and helping school events via online all the time.
Janey Hall, Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics (GSIC) - Art
Nomination: Mrs. Hall has gone out of her way to make lessons fun at home. Each week we get a link to a virtual lesson that she has created. I literally sit my child in front of the computer with art supplies and she completes the lesson just like she's in class. Mrs. Hall has encouraged her students to think out of the box when it comes to art. Our favorite project so far was creating a color wheel from things we have around the house. Mrs. Hall has Zoom calls with her classes, making sure no one feels isolated at home. She is very hands-on and has made this time away from school less stressful!
Jenny Bell, International Charter School of Atlanta (ICSAtlanta) - 6th & 7th grade ELA
Nomination: Ms.Bell has made the most of this school closure, by giving us fun and exciting assignments. Every Friday, we have . . . Fun Friday. All of my classmates participate and have fun. She is a kind woman and always puts us first. Whenever a student is having trouble, she always makes time to help them . . . . She's the person who kids come to when they need comforting.
We have been so impressed with how she has gone above and beyond with her creative and engaging teaching methods while maintaining her kindness in difficult situations. She expects hard work and diligence but understands that sometimes exceptions should be made. This transition to online learning has been seamless for my daughter . . . But, my daughter will always say that Mrs. Bell is her favorite and that title is deserved. Her dedication and positive energy is a breath of fresh air in these times of uncertainty.
Joyce Christy, Liberty Tech Charter School - EIP & ESOL Coordinator
Nomination: Every single day my son meets Mrs. Christy for a digital meetup. He is one of many students she meets with on a daily basis, she is a constant, guiding, positive force in these children's lives. . . . . It's a beautiful thing as a parent to have an exceptional adult role model for your child, especially during this time, as parents or grandparents have become at home educators and the stress families are facing is great.
Every afternoon, Mrs Christy meets with my son. I'm guessing by this time she has meet with dozens of other children but she always answers with a welcoming, genuine smile and greeting, my son feels that. She goes above and beyond to make him feel comfortable and build a friendship. I adore when I walk by and overhear them chatting at the end of his lesson about her animals, or ours, or the latest book we are reading! And his reading is progressing faster than ever! Love and compassion all the way with this Shining Star!
Kadeem Slocum, Genesis Innovation Academy for Boys - 5th grade ELA & Social Studies
Nomination: He has done an exceptional job in helping students adjust from in school learning to virtual learning. My student is still learning and doing well due to Mr. Slocum's skills in teaching and staying connected to his students.
He has made the use of learning via technology easy and fun for 5th grade. He . . . quickly set up digital classrooms and other technology so scholars would be prepared to learn.
Kasey Sewell, Coweta Charter Academy - 5th grade
Nomination: My son struggles in school . . . .This year has been especially difficult because he had both a surgery and an ER visit . . . right before the closures began. This meant he missed school, and then the schools closed. This kid's life turned upside down. Through it all, Mrs. Sewell was there for him. She called and FaceTimed and worked tirelessly to ensure we had what we needed to keep him on track, not just with his education but with his emotional well being too. He loves school now because of her. She is truly a special person who was meant to teach. We could not be more grateful.
Korie Moseley, Pataula Charter Academy - 4th grade
Nomination: Korie consistently stays in contact with her students and their families. She schedules online meetings using Zoom not only to check on their distance learning lessons, but, most importantly, to check on them emotionally, reassure them that this situation will pass, and make sure their needs are met. Korie also lets them know that they are loved and missed.
Lacey Ragin, Baconton Community Charter School - 2nd grade
Nomination: Lacey has faced many challenges in her personal life. I feel this prepared her to accept the challenge of virtual teaching without fear of the unknown. She quickly devised a plan that would keep her in personal contact with all of her students via Google Meet even facing her own internet challenges. She wakes up every morning and records herself teaching, sets up times to just chat with her students, takes them on virtual nature walks and various experiences around her farm, all while balancing her own children at home. One of her co-teachers was hospitalized during this time and she selflessly picked up her classes as well. She is always willing to go above and beyond for her students and deserves to be recognized.
Megan Rice, Brookhaven Innovation Academy - 5th grade ELA
Nomination: We are nominating this teacher because she has done a wonderful job balancing synchronous and asynchronous instruction. She has continued to differentiate instruction and meet individual needs. Ms. Rice has not only set up office hours for all students to be able to connect with her in a group format three times per day, but she also sets aside time for one-on-one instruction for students who need it. Her instruction is focused, clear and expects learning to occur. She's great!
Paige Eilers, Baconton Community Charter School - 3rd grade
Nomination: Paige has been readily available to the students and parents throughout this entire process. She has helped students and parents troubleshoot using telephone and video calls, made step-by-step instructional videos, and answered questions at all hours of the day/night. From what I have seen, she has made contact with each parent/student once a day. She is going above and beyond for her students and parents. I am so proud of her.
Patti Lazenby, International Charter School of Atlanta (ICSAtlanta) - 1st grade
Nomination: Ms. Lazenby was a great teacher before the lockdown. However, during the quarantine, Ms. Lazenby has gone above and beyond! She is the most organized teacher ever with online classroom assignments. Parents know exactly where to go and what to do daily. During the online presentations, she is engaged and enthusiastic! She is not just sat behind a screen talking, she reads, finds fun videos and songs to engage my little guy! She is a great communicator and responds within 30 minutes of an email being sent! Ms. Lazenby encourages my son to read and sends "prizes" though the mail. My son LOVES learning with Ms. Lazenby even in these scary times of COVID-19.
Posting videos every day is great but making them interesting and entertaining for young 6 year olds deserves recognition and respect.
Rebekah Roberts, Odyssey Charter School - 1st grade
Nomination: Ms. Roberts never missed a beat! She sent easy to follow instructions with the initial closure and then came up with a plan for the second half of the closure to follow the curriculum, including virtual "field trips!" She organized multiple Zoom meetings at various times to allow all children the chance to participate depending on their own unique home situation.
We are a double healthcare household, and while this time has been challenging (child care is as hard as ever to obtain and the stress of the constant dealings of COVID-19) Ms. Roberts (and Odysessy too!) has kept a sense of normalcy and a level of academic expectation that will not be forgotten.
Though my children continue to learn through COVID learning, they aren't stressed out and enjoy doing their school work as their normal routine.
Robin Packer, Odyssey Charter School - 7th & 8th grade Math
Nomination: Ms. Packer does a great job of keeping parents informed and she provides support videos for her students. She also has weekly meetings and lets her students know that she is available if they need her help with anything. Ms. Packer has high expectations for all of her students and keeps them informed as well.
Very attentive to students & communicates with parents. Great teacher - students are able to excel with using her teaching methods.
Sarah Davis, Resurgence Hall Charter School - 8th grade
Nomination: Sarah has continued to embody the mission of RHCS by ensuring each and every one of her scholars are learning and enriching their minds to be prepared for high school, college, and beyond. She continues to search for creative and virtual ways to not only teach, but also celebrate her 8th grade scholars so they can have a memorable and everlasting middle school experience.
Tony Baulos (Mr. B), School for Arts Infused Learning (SAIL) - 5th grade Science & Social Studies
Nomination: The students quickly became engaged due to his love of the subject areas and his interactive lessons. He found fun ways for the students to learn the state standards. Chemical changes- make pancakes. Need to review for an upcoming test? Make a class set of electronic flashcards. Lock boxes, long discussions, videos and even "Teacher for the Day" had the students learning, having fun and growing to love Mr. B.
He not only taught well through videos, he made sure to lift the students spirits. He usually would take my daughter's class to recess, so he made fun and interactive video on recess. He really went above and beyond to encourage and teach well. Mr. B's "Recess" video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1549vpf_7wYmeTYuKxOYSyqHjc9VNoRT0/view
Tracy Dubose, Genesis Innovation Academy for Boys - 5th grade
Nomination:Mr. Dubose does what he can to help the students feel some sort of normalcy during this time period. He recognized that this is not just stressful on the parents but also the students. Many adults forget that the children are also making this transition and it is not easy especially for those with special needs. Mr. Dubose doesn't forget that. The icing on the cake is the fact that he tells the kids "I love you" at the end of every session. Thank you, Mr. Dubose, for everything you do.