Unsung Hero: Jolene Daw

Jolene was, to me, in many ways, the most influential teacher I had throughout my educational journey to becoming a teacher.

She taught a general beginning college class, but she did such an awesome job that she has had a hand in everything I do now.

While most professors I’ve had really did not pay much attention to details, she was very attentive to every aspect of at least what I did. From what I could tell, my classmates all thought so as well.

But what has really stuck with me is how she always made time to talk with me long after I was no longer her student. She was my mentor through my entire time at Grand Canyon University (GCU).

We have been in touch since my graduation and it is ALWAYS great to speak with her. She was the only one of my instructors that I wanted to meet up with as a part of my celebration to graduation. She even had lunch with me and my wife at Cooperstown in Pheonix.

Throughout my degree path, she encouraged me to always do my best and would even critique some of my research papers—giving me ideas and thoughts that I could use to better my presented report prior to submission, when I was not in her class anymore. This was something she would do for me up to my final benchmarks as a senior.

Did I mention that my degree was obtained via an online program?

We never met face-to-face until having lunch, and I had no idea what she looked like, but I knew how much her support meant to me! She was at the time, the youngest professor in the online instructional program for GCU, but displayed a remarkable amount of knowledge and experience.

One thing she also did for me was give me the courage to not just continue in getting my bachelor’s degree but to push forward in working on a master’s, which I plan to start in fall or spring, at the latest. She, on several occasions, told me that if I did that she would back me on an application to teach in the program and become a colleague. I will be attempting to do just that after obtaining my masters degree.

I am sure that I would have completed my degree had I not had her in my corner. I am also sure that, without her support, I would not have finished with a 3.87 GPA, I would not have been Magna Cum Laude, and my drive to move forward in my education would not be as strong as it is now.

Jolene is my hero, my guide in many ways, and I am proud to say that I call her my friend.

I am looking forward to hopefully be calling her my colleague in the future as well.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Jolene an outstanding educator?

  1. She is remarkably attentive to students’ needs.
  2. She has a unique perspective.
  3. She is not afraid to listen to thoughts and opinions of her students—even if they do not parallel her own.
  4. She is very encouraging when it comes to pushing students to strive to be the best they can.
  5. She is extremely smart—not just in her knowledge, but in her ability to transmit this knowledge to students.

Jolene Daw, Faculty in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Grand Canyon University, is being recognized by Terrell Martin (Grand Canyon University).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Jolene, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Anita Caref

On the heels of a crisis of direction in my career, I met Anita.

I had burnt out at my dream job and I moved to Chicago in a series of professional upheavals.

I was not sure if I was actually much good at teaching despite my passion for education. I had been at the City Colleges of Chicago for almost two years and was feeling frustrated with my work and my new city.

When Anita joined the adult education department at CCC, I quickly realized I had found a kindred spirit in education—a colleague and friend who would be that person that would anchor me to the work I wanted to do and to the kind of people I enjoy being around.

In this, as her personality and kindness are naturally inclined to do, she has never faltered. I have been grateful for knowing and connecting with Anita since we first shared disbelief about CCC adult education “curriculum”.

Besides supporting the teaching I wanted to do, she helped me hone my skills to do it.

Reading and observing other programs and classrooms through her connections, I learned so many of the things have brought me to that oft-elusive level in teaching of feeling truly competent in my work and my skills as an educator.

It is through Anita and her advocacy for progressive pedagogical approaches and a more wholistic education for the students at CCC, that I found hope in working at City Colleges and a belief that I could still do the work that I had spent the better part of my adolescence and adulthood deeply committed to doing.

For these gifts of professional confidence and personal warmth, friendship and colleagueship, I am forever grateful.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Anita an outstanding educator?

  1. Intelligence
  2. Support
  3. Warmth
  4. Kindness
  5. Determination

Anita Caref, Adult Education Language Arts Reading Specialist at City Colleges of Chicago, is being recognized by Daniel Stein.

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Anita, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Dr. Maryann Wilkey

I was 44 years old when I enrolled at Barton college to pursue an Elementary Education degree.

I was afraid and nervous, and I didn’t know if I had what it took—first to be a teacher and second to be a Barton Bulldog.

My first major education class was Assessments and Dr. Wilkey was the professor.

Many of the other students had taken classes with her before and knew the expectations. That first night my heart sank. She asked questions and it appeared to me that I was the only one she was calling on.

I went in the bathroom during break and cried. However, after a while, I realized I was being silly and came to my senses.

The remaining seven classes, I tried to learn everything I could from Dr. Wilkey because she saw something in me I didn’t see in myself. She pushed me and others to do better than good. Good was not good enough, but I did not have that mindset until I met Dr Wilkey.

I enjoyed her classes and couldn’t wait to see what we were going to do next. She had a way of motivating her students to strive for the next level.

Even still today, she is concerned about her students

I think to myself often, “What Would Jesus Do?” and then, “What Would Dr. Wilkey Do?”

She is truly an awesome teacher, citizen and friend.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Dr. Wilkey an outstanding educator?

  1. Motivator
  2. Intelligent
  3. Passionate
  4. Visionary
  5. Driven

Dr. Maryann Wilkey, Professor at Barton College, is being recognized by Marsha Foreman (Barton College).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Maryann, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Mary Hightshue

Mary has taught French at our high school for decades, and she has always done it in a high relationship, life changing kind of way.

This manifests daily via her interactions with students and through her leadership of a summer study-abroad program that Mary has coordinated for many years.

Mary is retiring in a few weeks, and though some folks retire every year, I have not found myself as emotional over the loss of other consummate teaching pros’ departures.

She IS the best of what Zionsville Community High School stands for.

She will be sorely missed and revered for her service to youth always.

What are characteristics or qualities that make Mary an outstanding educator?

  1. Wisdom skillfully imparted about the power of world language study to a student’s whole life.
  2. Interpersonal linkage with students at every level, novice through accomplished.

Mary Hightshue, Teacher at Zionsville Community High School, is being recognized by Scott Robison (Superintendent, Zionsville Community Schools).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Mary, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Helen O’Neill

Helen inspired me to become an urban special educator for students in behavior disabilities classrooms.

I have since moved into graduate research and am preparing to receive a doctorate from NYU in urban education, focusing on injustices in classification and service provision to students in behavior disabilities programs.

Helen served the city of Newark for more than 30 years teaching some of its most under-served students and loving every day of it.

She is an educational champion, an everyday social justice hero, an amazing positive role model, an indomitable spirit, and a valued mentor.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Helen an outstanding educator?

  1. Dedication to all students.
  2. Passion for serving students with emotional and behavioral challenges.
  3. Fierce advocate for student rights.
  4. Empathetic nature.
  5. Humility about her impact on students’ lives.

Helen O’Neill, Retired & Substitute Teacher, is being recognized by Evan Johnston (New York University).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Helen, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Valerie Brown

I was Ms. Brown’s first student teacher in her fifth grade science class.

Up to that point, I didn’t know what grade level I wanted to teach, but after two days with Ms. Brown, I was hooked on fifth grade.

I was supposed to be there for ten weeks, jumping in to teach my own lessons about halfway through. Ms. Brown had so much confidence in me, that by week two, I was leading the class!

Her quiet guidance, mental strength, and spot-on wisdom helped me complete my ten week placement with flying colors.

She encouraged, coaxed, cajoled and even fussed at me the whole way through and I loved every minute of it. I wanted to continue teaching with her in the fifth grade, but there were no positions open. Before the end of the school year, I was offered a position at a neighboring school…in the fifth grade!

Believe me, the lessons Ms. Brown taught me about myself and about education were part of my daily routine.

Currently, I am an assistant principal in a K-5 building, working on my Ed.D. in education.

I am convinced that my experiences with Ms. Brown helped me to become the educator that I am.

And, for the past 19 years, I have always been thankful that she believed in me enough for me to believe in myself.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Valerie an outstanding educator?

  1. The courage to be herself and to help others stand in their own truths.
  2. A true belief that positive relationships—not rules—can change the life of a child.
  3. The ability to not take life so seriously and laugh! It is refreshing!
  4. A warm personality that makes even the toughest students trust her implicitly.
  5. A hard-earned wisdom about life and love that transcends any lesson plans.

Valerie Brown, Teacher at Julian Middle School, is being recognized by Saundra Russell-Smith (Assistant Principal, Singleton Elementary School).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Valerie, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Janice Regan

Besides being my mother, Janice has an amazing way of connecting with her students and helping them see the best parts of themselves.

She helps students who struggle in her class (math) see that they can do the work if they are willing to put in hard work themselves. She does not give up on her students and goes above and beyond to serve them.

As a child, I can remember her collecting clothing for students who were in need and providing them with materials for the classroom when their families weren’t able to.

She is always respectful to her students even when they do not show her the same respect; and, because of that, students who are not even her students know her to be fair and a great teacher!

There are many times we are out and about and old students come up to thank her for all she did for them.

She is the reason I became a teacher.

She showed me how amazing it is to teach and the possibilities that lie within this field. I could truly not ask for a better mother or mentor!

Janice Regan (L) with daughter Caitlin Regan (R)

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Janice an outstanding educator?

  1. Fair
  2. Caring
  3. Generous
  4. Respectful
  5. Selfless

Janice Regan, Teacher at Sampson G. Smith School, is being recognized by her daughter, Caitlin Regan (Seton Hall University).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Janice, make a tax-deductible donation today.