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.

Unsung Hero: Dawn Dennis

I was one of those smart under-performing students who loved to learn but didn’t see the value in busywork.

As a first grader, I worked the system to get by with as little work as possible and entered second grade pretty jaded for a bespectacled six year old.

But Mrs. Dennis didn’t stand for my nonsense, and she didn’t judge me by my record.

Instead, she challenged me and accommodated me so neatly that I loved school in second grade.

She let me skip the practice rows on worksheets and just do the challenges. When I finished early in math she gave me tangrams or “helper jobs” instead of more busywork. She encouraged me to read books that were challenging (and way higher levels than second grade).

The best part was that she didn’t single me out; she was like that for all of her studentsloving on us and always encouraging us to do our best.

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

  1. Unending patience;
  2. She never raised her voice;
  3. Outside-the-box engagement;
  4. Age-appropriate challenges; and
  5. Passionate and enthusiastic about learning.

Dawn Dennis, Teacher at Allen Elementary, is being recognized by SarahJean Meyer (Eastern Michigan University).

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

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

Research from The Educational Forum: Urban America and the Future of Schools

Today’s blogger is Dr. Kfir Mordechay, social science research consultant with The Civil Rights Project at UCLA. He writes here about research recently published in an article (co-authored by Dr. Gary Orfield) in The Educational Forum.

For almost two centuries after the first official census in 1790, the United States was between 80 and 90 percent White.

Now the United States is on a path toward a demographic diversity never experienced by any nation.

In 2013 we hit a tipping point, where for the first time in the nation’s history most of the babies born were members of minority groups. This means that today’s young Latinx, Black, and Asian toddlers will quickly become the country’s majority.

As the demographic landscape of the country continues to shift, it is our great metropolitan areas that are fueling the transition to a majority-minority country.

It is in these densely populated areas that we find the most profound demographic shifts. Already, in 36 of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, newborns have surpassed the majority-minority threshold. And in the country’s largest cities and their urbanized areas of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, 2 out of 3 toddlers are nonwhite.

These toddlers, who will soon grow to be school-age children, come from groups that tend to underperform educationally. This raises questions about how the nation’s schools are preparing the next generation to participate productively in an increasingly competitive global economy.

On average nationwide, these students attend schools that are segregated by race and class, with fewer educational resources such as teacher quality and experience, which could negatively impact their educational achievement.

In 1990, 7 out of 10 school-aged children were White—but today, that number is less than 1 in 2. Educators and policy makers must consider all possible strategies to improve the educational outcomes for this new and diverse majority of American students—a majority that is overwhelmingly concentrated in the nation’s metro regions and whose success is inextricably linked to the future economic prosperity of the nation.

Although the shift in the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup poses imperative challenges for the country’s public schools and society at large, this ongoing diversity explosion should be greeted with optimism because of the opportunities it presents for revitalizing our country, energizing our labor force, and providing greater connectivity to the global economy.

But there is a danger in continuing to pursue the dominant reform models of high-stakes testing and charter schools to address the needs of the nation’s rapidly growing minority groups. This means we must find workable solutions that offer these students more access to better schools.

In thinking about these solutions, it is especially important to keep in mind the range of metropolitan community contexts. In our article, Gary Orfield and I argue that achieving such solutions will require thinking creatively about policies that link housing and schools.

We call for expanding federal housing and urban development programs to create more economically integrative housing, creating more magnet school programs with guidelines and strategies for racial diversity, and putting similar requirements on charter schools.

KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share Dr. Mordechay and Dr. Orfield’s article free with the education community through May 31, 2017.  Read the full article here.

Unsung Hero: Hope Conover

Mrs. Conover served as a mentor to me through high school. She is also willing to listen, and she has kept in contact with me to encourage me since high school.

Mrs. Conover was never directly my teacher in a classroom, but I was part of her club in high school: Student Council. She spent hours after school making decorations and donating her time to make our school even better. Mrs.

Conover even included her family in the love of us students. To make sure we could have a Football Homecoming Parade in 2013, her and I (with her kids and my siblings) walked the entire parade route the summer before classes began, getting the written permission from businesses along the route.

Her dedication and giving of her time and effort is not limited by the school bells or school calendar. She is student-centered year-round.

When I was in high school, I was getting sick before a big week of tests and events for student council. Mrs. Conover brought me a gallon of Sunny D to “give me vitamin C.”

She cared enough to bring vitamin C in a tasty form when I was sick, but she also cared enough to listen with open ears when myself or other students were having issues at home. Though she could not fix most of our problems, she heard us, she encouraged us, and we never left without a hug.

Now, I am so excited to have Mrs. Conover as one of my colleagues next year as I enter my first teaching job.

Hope Conover, Poplar Bluff High School

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

  1. Dedicated
  2. Willing to listen OPENLY
  3. Encouraging
  4. Caring
  5. Giving

Hope Conover, Teacher at Poplar Bluff High School, is being recognized by Jennie Caswell (Student, College of the Ozarks).

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

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

Unsung Hero: Mary Robison

Mary Robison has proof that she is transformative in helping children grow and self-actualize.

Scores of them are in contact with her from across the years giving thanks and testimony to the ways in which Mary’s robust self-efficacy in certainty that she can help kids grow becomes a wonderful contagion in her class.

Mary’s students learn that they can learn anything they want to learn and will pursue. She introduces each child to his or her own wonders of intellect, awareness, and passion for learning.

She causes a fervent love of reading, multiple lifeskills, science acumen, and an inoculation against boredom with history by making those human stories come alive and resonate with today.

Best of all, Mary Robison instills an unshakable sense of confidence in children because she models it daily while bridging them to the hardest, best work they have ever done.

Mary Robison, Westfield Intermediate School

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

  1. Individualized perception of each child in her care.
  2. Novelty is everywhere in the lessons she creates. It truly is remarkable and memorable.
  3. Compassion drives her core, and she infuses her classes with deep, safe, caring collaboration that supercharges all learning while being time efficient and magnifying of her own self-efficacy.
  4. Authentic tasks, external experts and audiences for student work/exhibition, and a direct, genuine dialogue with students and parents about the lofty goals for their time together.
  5. Unavoidably contagious enthusiasm for all learning and all learners’ interests that can be brought to bear in getting them and keeping them engaged.

Mary Robison, Teacher at Westfield Intermediate 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: Kimberly Judice

Mrs. Kim has always inspired me to keep learning and keep trying even when the math (and life) got a little tough.

She would explain math in a way that made sense, and when it didn’t, she would have another way of explaining at the ready.

I remember one day when the calculus class was discussing career options and I had been struggling with my decision of wanting to teach, Mrs. Kim helped me realize that teaching really could be ideal for me.

Even after graduation, I keep in touch with Mrs. Kim, and she always asks how school is going and encourages me to keep going.

I had several teachers tell me not to even waste my time becoming a teacher and that it is not worth it, but Mrs. Kim never did.

She really an amazing teacher who continues to care even after the student leaves her classroom.

Kimberly Judice, Math Teacher at Loreauville High School is being recognized by Emilie Broussard (University of Louisiana at Lafayette).

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

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

Unsung Hero: Ruth Wynn Sadler

A Very Special Teacher

Some teachers make you feel special, and Ruth Wynn Sadler was the teacher who made me feel like I was smart and could accomplish anything during formative years when I never dreamed that college was a possibility for me.

Later, when one of my students compared my smile to the moon and the stars, those words reminded me Mrs. Sadler’s warm, welcoming smile that greeted students in a manner that motivated us to  learn what she was teaching that day in home economics.

She was great about ignoring classroom pranks although the twinkle in her eyes revealed how much she seemed to enjoy a few mischievous pranks as much as any student. I never remember her raising her voice or dismissing anyone from class during the three years I took a variety of the classes she taught.

However, I most remember what Mrs. Sadler did for me during my senior year after I was elected president of the home economics club when I informed her that I would be unable to make the scheduled home economics field trip to the state fair in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I was too embarrassed to tell her my family was experiencing economic challenges. Yet, when I told her that I could not attend the function, she said she would pick me up at my home the Saturday morning of the trip. Later that week, it began to rain excessively in our rural town. In fact, it rained so much that a number of bridges not too far from my home became impassable and were closed.

So, Mrs. Sadler and her husband had to drive at least an hour of unplanned detours through less traveled, graveled backwoods to reach my home. Then, we traveled back to the school bus destination where the other students waited for her and me to arrive before boarding the bus to travel many hours to get to the fair.

I experienced a wonderful day at the fair mingling with my peers because of Mrs. Sadler’s generosity.

That evening, she and her husband retraced the detour to take me back home.

As a teacher, I realized the sacrifice Mrs. Sadler made for me to attend the fair as I sought empower the lives of my students, and during our last two phone conversations, she shared how she was enduring the infirmities of aging. Yet, her conversation was as cheerful, positive, and complimentary of me as what I remembered in high school.

Although Mrs. Sadler passed away last year, her kindness lives forever in my heart.

Mrs. Ruth Wynn Sadler is being recognized as an Unsung Hero by Dr. Sherrill Rayford.

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

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