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Extraordinary Educators: Valerie McCain, John Anderson, Andrea Emmanuel

May 13, 2020

Now more than ever before, we are recognizing what our teachers do on a daily basis is truly extraordinary! And as many of you are home with your kids, learning all over again that pre-algebra is a challenge and writing an essay can be quite a feat, we hope you find yourself more thankful than ever for the men and women who patiently guide your children through these learning milestones.

Today we are featuring three teachers who graciously choose to spend their time positively impacting and empowering our students, both in the classroom and virtually! Join us in celebrating the Extraordinary Educators below and all the rest in our city. (Maybe reach out to your children’s teachers and extend a word of thanks for all they do!)

Valerie McCain

Educator, Valerie McCain from Ferndale Middle School.

“Ferndale Middle School is a school filled with a diverse student body and highly qualified staff. We are a family and go the extra mile to support one another as we prepare our students to become productive citizens and leaders in society.”

Valerie was nominated by her principal, Leslie Kinard, who calls Valerie a “mentor and champion for high standards.” As the Career and Technical Education teacher at Ferndale Middle School, Valerie places her high standards on herself, her students, and her school.

“I get excited knowing that I am equipping my students with the technical skills and soft skills they need to be successful in high school and college so that they can obtain the career of their dreams,” Valerie says.

And the standards Valerie holds her students to come accompanied with her deepest support. She wants her students to succeed, to be empowered to try harder than they normally would, and she supports this through her own investment in their lives.

“My son’s middle school years were very difficult for him and would have been less so if he had a teacher who was kind and demonstrated compassion towards him. I really try to provide my students with the experience I wish my son had,” Valerie says of her motivation as a teacher. “I strive to treat my students with love, kindness and respect and let them know that no matter what, I care about them and I am concerned about what happens to them.”

John Anderson

John Anderson, teacher at Southwest Middle School.

“Southwest middle is an amazing school with extraordinary leaders and staff. We work together to help our students exceed and excel.”

John Anderson, nominated by his principal, Dr. Arlisa Armond, teaches 7th graders at Southwest Middle. Dr. Armond says of John, “He is committed to student success, a leader among leaders.”  

This leadership style that John exudes for his students as a model is built on the solid foundation of trust.  

“My teaching style is greatly influenced by my belief that students really can learn when they know they can trust the teacher,” John says. “Creating a safe, well-structured classroom opens up the opportunity for students to learn. Relationships with students, parents, staff, and leaders help to build an environment for students to learn.” 

John says that hearing that he has made learning exciting for his students is his proudest achievement. And like Valerie, John wants to push his students to try harder than they ever have before and empower them to know the worth and value they can bring to the world.

“I hope that I have given my students the courage to not give up and believe in themselves,” John says. “I hope that my impact in the classroom has made a positive change in a students life outside the classroom, even if I never find out about it. My students should be one of my greatest impacts.”

Andrea Emmanuel

Andrea Emmanuel, teacher at Welborn Middle School.

“At Welborn Academy of Science and Technology, we learn and grow together, building character and developing scholars. Every day brings about its challenges, another opportunity to learn something new, and advance eager minds.”

Andrea Emmanuel, 8th grade math teacher and Teacher of the Year for 2018-2019 at Welborn Academy of Science and Technology was nominated by her teacher Ashauna Harris.

Andrea’s goal to impact her students is also born from her desire to see her students’ potential maximized. She works daily to empower them, not through overwhelming challenges or forced competition, but rather through small, daily conversations to build their confidence and relationships.

“I use humor and relevant real-world application to keep students engaged while making connections. Class is one long conversation,” Andrea explains. “Throughout this conversation students are sharing ideas, challenging themselves and others, sparking curiosity, productively struggling, increasing their vocabulary and learning.”

Andrea cites the mission of Welborn – to create a caring environment consistent with the middle school philosophy by encouraging responsible decision-making, cultural understanding, and respect for self and others – as one of the major contributions to making these kinds of classroom conversations possible. And it’s led to some of her proudest moments with her students.

The most memorable teaching moment was when a student with a learning disability volunteered to work with and explain a concept to another student,” Andrea says. “That student had built up her math skills and confidence in the classroom and in the building. She learned how to take what she knew and use it with real-world application.”

Check out Andrea’s Amazon Wishlist!

Keep Discovering our High Points,

The HPD Team

Photography by Maria West Photography

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