2020 Benjamin Banneker Elementary Teacher of the Year

Kourtney Williams

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Kourtney Williams
Benjamin Banneker Elementary School
Fifth Grade

What factors influenced your decision to become a teacher? Identify what you consider to be your greatest contributions to and accomplishments in education.
My tenth-grade geometry teacher Mr. Davis influenced me to become a teacher. Mr Davis started off as a substitute teacher for my math class. Months went by and Mr. Davis would return every single day until he ended up teaching our class the entire year after the entire class begged him not to leave us! It was the relationship I had with Mr. Davis that made me want to become a teacher. He was laid back and easy to talk to. However, at the same time, he still had high expectations for all his students and would do anything he could to help any student succeed in academics as well as their personal life. There was nothing fancy about his classroom, what he wore or what he did in order to teach us the content. Mr. Davis was just a genuine funny guy who kept it real with anyone he came in contact with. His humor, playful and positive attitude is what I admire about him the most. Before then, I had not had a teacher like Mr. Davis before. For me, Mr. Davis was like an older brother. Someone there to help guide me through school and life. Even after I passed his class, I started to help tutor other students in Mr. Davis Geometry class that year until graduation. I also became a youth coach and peer mediator throughout high school just like Mr. Davis. After I graduated high school, I volunteered as a tutor at the elementary and high schools in my neighborhood. This is when I knew teaching and helping others was something I would enjoy doing as a career. As a teacher now I believe I mirror a lot of Mr. Davis character traits by making sure I have a really strong relationship with people around me. Especially in the working field of education. We all know that relationships are major keys in education. “If you can reach their heart, you can definitely reach their mind.”

Describe a project or initiative that you have led or been involved with that contributed to increasing equity in education and opportunity for students in your school. What was your role in this project and what was the impact?
At Banneker, we have a yearly Black History Live Museum Program. This year my fifth-grade students focused on the historic events in black history and analyzed the life of a slave. During the program, the entire school participates in creating scenes and acting out major events that have occurred in black history. I have taught the curriculum to all students, which provided them with the opportunity to learn about their culture and other significant events throughout history. This is also an opportunity for students to have real and tough decisions about inequality, race, and equity of different ethnicity.

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