Wheatley Elementary School
How are you working to increase equity in education and opportunity for students in your school?
This year at Wheatley, I am privileged to hold the position of team leader for our school-wide PBIS committee. After much brainstorming and collaboration with the rest of our staff, our committee decided to put in place monthly celebrations for students who go above and beyond to demonstrate outstanding behavior at our school. As teachers, I think we often find ourselves short on time, and unfortunately, we often miss out on opportunities to recognize the amazing young role models that sit in our classrooms each day. As PBIS team leader, I organize and host the parties in my art classroom once a month to recognize two students from each classroom that go above and beyond in terms of showing outstanding character, kindness, and behavior in all domains. By recognizing these individuals and celebrating their hard work, the PBIS team and I are able to show students that their accomplishments are worthwhile and valued by their teachers and classmates at school.
What message about public education do you want to share?
Teachers and students today are busier than ever, and a great deal of their hard work is focused on meeting rigorous academic standards and showcasing learning through constant data collection, standardized testing, and performance measures intended to highlight academic growth. While this work is incredibly important, I often feel that students who, for whatever reason, do not show the expected gains in reading, math, and science, feel discouraged and even frustrated with school. As a fifth grade teacher who has transitioned to teaching visual arts, I have been fortunate to see amazing levels of engagement and excitement in the art classroom that, for many students, were not present in the general education classroom. Each day, I hope to facilitate a creative outlet for all of our students, especially those who may not excel in the traditional sense at school. I strive to create an environment where all students can find a niche and feel like they are “good” at school, with the hope that perhaps some of the confidence gained through art class will propel them towards success in the challenges they face elsewhere.