More Than an Award: Words from the 2014 NSTOY

Mandy Jayne Stanley was the 2014 National Student Teacher of the Year. She is in her first year of teaching fourth grade at Charles A. Brown Elementary School in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a graduate of Samford University and member of the Zeta Theta chapter of KDP.

Being a student teacher or intern means more than just observing and performing lessons here and there; when it is done correctly and effectively, it means giving it your all. When you truly give something your all and strive for excellence in a genuine way, life will take you to unexpected places filled with unexpected treasures.

My student teaching experiences and internships were rich in life lessons, professional development, and constructive reinforcement. I participated in over ten internships in various settings ranging from urban to suburban to rural schools across Jefferson County, Alabama, in every grade level K–5, both general and special education. During these internships, I was able to lead professional developments on the topics of technology integration in the classroom, parent-teacher relationships, and other intriguing topics for teachers at various schools and conferences.

I was also a part of the Samford University Orlean Bullard Beeson Leadership Team and Dean’s Advisory Council, which allowed me to help with making various decisions for my peers, plan school-wide events for local young elementary school students, and develop professional and collaboration skills that are imperative to educators. I made it my goal to engage myself fully into every opportunity that arose, even if it meant working at the schools longer than my cooperating teachers. I did not do it for recognition. Honestly, I despise being the center of attention because I prefer to work behind the scenes. I did it because I wanted to make a difference and begin to master my craft as an educator. Practice makes perfect.

Little did I know, my Kappa Delta Pi Advisor, Dr. Amy Hoaglund, chose me to represent Samford University as a National Student Teacher of the Year candidate. Did I believe I had a shot? No. Was it worth the shot? Yes. We all know that you miss 100% of the shots you do not take! So, I submitted my application and videoed lesson (my first lesson’s video was ruined due to technical difficulties…well, actually, I never hit the record button on my iPad, but I did not let that discourage me!) and waited patiently.

Mandy Jayne StanleyWhen I found out that I had received the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society and the Association of Teacher Educator’s National Student Teacher of the Year award in 2014, I cried. I cried mainly because I was humbled. Everything, technical difficulties, late evenings, and all, was worth it. Due to receiving this humbling accolade, I have been able to be a Kappa Delta Pi spokesperson.

I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, in February to speak at the Association of Teacher Educators conference for pre-service teachers. It was there that I actually received my award. At this wonderful conference, I met seasoned educators who poured their wisdom, experience, and encouragement into my life as an individual and a teacher. This award meant more to me than the prestigious title; this award gave me the encouragement and opportunities to share the importance of education for all students. It was so encouraging to have past teachers and professors cheer me on and share their words of wisdom. They felt the spark that I now feel when I see my students succeed.

Every teacher’s favorite moment is watching their students’ faces light up when they begin to understand a new, challenging concept. It is both exhilarating and encouraging to watch students learn and grow within one’s classroom. I now have 23 children who will hold a very special place in my heart as my very first class. They have all blossomed in their own ways, and their confidence in their intellectual ability has increased. As my mother says, when you become a teacher you must teach the whole child, not just their minds, in order to make a difference. You have to teach their hands to share and give, their hearts to love and show compassion, and their feet to climb the mountains that society is going to place before them.

Becoming the 2014 National Student Teacher of the Year is more than an award or title; it will change your life by growing you, encouraging you, and giving you opportunities. Plan a lesson to video, teach it and video it, and apply! Take the shot. The deadline is June 15. Find out more:

http://www.kdp.org/resources/scholarshipsandgrants/nationalstudentteacheroftheyear.php

And check out the webinar in the resources catalog titled “Promote Yourself! Steps to Making a Video That Shows You as an Effective Teacher” by Anna Quinzio-Zafran to help you with planning and shooting your video. You can even see parts of my video for my application. http://www.kdp.org/ssa/resourcescatalog.php

You could be the 2015 National Student Teacher of the Year!

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