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Reeves named Grayson teacher of the year

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By Larry Chambers

INDEPENDENCE — Sharon Reeves, a teacher at the CATE Center, has been named the Grayson County school system’s teacher of the year for 2010.

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The announcement came May 4, during the annual reception to honor distinguished teachers from each of the 10 schools in the system.

Stephen Cornett, director of instruction and assessment, complimented the teachers “for their caring attitudes and their strong commitment to give students the best education possible.”

Cornett said teachers had to meet extensive criteria as part of the selection process.

A committee that included Cornett, former superintendent Mike Phipps, Susie Funk and Doug Lawson of the central office staff read over the portfolios provided by each teacher.

"It was a hard decision for the committee because of the quality of the teachers considered,” Cornett said.

Teachers of the year selected for the different school were: Muriel Burnette, Baywood Elementary; Joy Lambert, Bridle Creek Elementary; Dawn Wright, Fairview Elementary; Samantha Anderson, Fries Middle School; Pat Fleshman, Grayson County High School; Reeves, CATE Center; Leisa Wright, Independence Elementary; Charles Campbell, Independence Middle; Martha Hall, Mount Rogers Combined; and Janice Watson, Providence Elementary.

Reeves’ Philosophy of Teaching, which Cornett read during the reception held at the Grayson National Bank Conference Center, says that quality schools and quality teachers must put the best interest of students at the center of educational practice.

“One of my goals as a teacher is to continually reflect on and modify my teaching to ensure all students benefit from being in my classroom. I believe teachers have the ability to implement strategies that lead to student success and to make lasting impressions in the lives of young people.

“One strategy is to develop a caring relationship with my students. I believe being a successful teacher is much more than providing quality instruction. Being a successful teacher is a lot like being a parent. You share joy when your students achieve success, and you share sorrow when your students hurt.

“Successful teachers know their students, listen to their students and provide encouragement and guidance for their students... When I say to my students: 'How did your game go?' 'I would love to see your prom dress picture.' 'Are you feeling better today?' 'Where are you going to college?' Students realize I am communicating an interest in them. Sometimes students just need someone to listen to them.

“Whether students need to talk about their financial struggles, because both parents are losing their jobs or about mom and dad separating, just having someone to listen often provides comfort for the student.”

Reeves said effective teachers provide encouragement for students. “When I encourage students to get involved in sports, compete in FBLA competition, apply for a scholarship or campaign to be a club officer, I am communicating to my students that I believe in them.”

A good teacher also provides guidance, Reeves said. "When I tell my students 'Please don’t drive 75 mph again!' 'Be glad your parents care what time you come home.' 'Ladies do not fist fight!' 'Have you filled out that financial aid form?' I am communicating to my students that I care about them.”

Another of Reeves' strategies is to plan meaningful instruction based on knowing her students. “Knowledge of my students’ personal interests, career goals and prior experiences with new skills or concepts, etc., are also important when planning instruction... For example, I know several students in my college credit Computer Information Systems class are also enrolled in the nursing program. When appropriate, I try to relate new computer skills, ideas, and concepts to how these are used in the medical profession.”

A third strategy is to challenge students with goals and activities that require critical thinking and problem solving, Reeves said.

“Enhanced learning takes place when students utilize higher level thinking skills. My goal is to arrange instruction to remove support structures as appropriate, encouraging students to rely on their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

“For example, when I teach new computer concepts or skills, I generally begin by providing direct instruction where I demonstrate the concepts for skills incorporating visual, auditory and kinesthetic instructional methods. I then provide opportunities for students to practice the concepts or skills while I serve as their learning facilitator, celebrating students’ competence and/or correcting misunderstandings as learning evolves.”

Reeves' fourth strategy is to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment where students feel valued and respected.

“I believe students should feel comfortable to take risks in learning without the fear of punishment or embarrassment. Quality teachers recognize classrooms are full of diversity, and they draw on these differences to enhance instruction.”

Reeves said she prays each day “that God will grant me the knowledge and wisdom to be successful in my classroom.

“I desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. My goal is to serve as a role model for my students, both inside and outside the classroom. As I tell my Teachers for Tomorrow class, ‘You are not only a teacher in the classroom but also outside the classroom. Students remember their teachers for a lifetime.’

“Making a positive, lasting impression in young peoples’ lives is rewarding.”

Reeves will receive more than $4,300 in donations of gifts and services from Grayson County businesses and individuals, and each school’s teacher of the year received a plaque and special gift.

Donations included: Ace Computer, computer cleanup; Anonymous donor, Stepper exercise machine; Aunt Bea’s Restaurant, $10 gift certificate; Blue Spruce Cleaners, $25 cleaning; Carter Bank and Trust, $25 passbook savings account; Casita’s Restaurant, special dinner for two; CATE Cosmetology, pedicure/manicure; Cassell Real Estate, $25 cash prize; Ciro’s Restaurant, $20 gift certificate; D.S. Wright Insurance, $25 cash prize; Dollywood, two free admissions; E&R Oil, $25 gas card; Food City, $50 gift card; The Declaration and The Gazette, subscription to each newspaper; Grandmama’s Restaurant, $5 meal; Grayson-Carroll-Wythe Insurance, $25 cash prize; Grayson Express, $20 gift card; Grayson National Bank, gift bag; 58 Grocery, $10 gas card; Guynn Furniture, $50 gift certificate; Grayson Florist, corsage and teacher bouquet.

Also, Independence Oil, $50 cash prize; Kathy Mendes, piece of art; Lightning Lube, oil change; Ogle’s Restaurant, two dinners; Pair of Jacks, 10 tanning sessions; Pizza Inn, $10 meal certificate; Quick Chek, $10 gas card; Ripley’s Aquarium, four free admission tickets; Rixey’s Market, $10 gas; State Farm Insurance, $25 Visa card; Subway, $10 gift certificate; The Paper Clip, desk chair/office supplies; Total Body Sculpting, 3-month membership/massage; U.S. Cellular, gift bag; Walters Drug, $50 gift certificate.