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I’m a TOY

Being recognized by your peers is a pretty awesome feeling. Today, I was named one of the two teachers of the year (TOY) at my school. We have two because of the way that the state breaks them into groups. And I am honored to share the title with Melissa Manko who teaches Special Education. She is so creative in the way she engages her students.

Being that I work in a new school and my principal got to pick her faculty, we have the most incredible group of teachers I have ever seen. Their level of commitment is amazing. Our school was named as one of the top 5% in the state last year for achievement. That right there tells you how hard our faculty and staff works. So, for this group to honor me in such a way is so humbling. I personally think everyone at Rossview Elementary School should be teacher/admin/aide/receptionist/etc of the year.

It’s funny how life can take you to places that you did not see coming. I never in a million years would have pictured myself as a teacher. As a matter of fact, on my first week of my first year teaching we were holding open house and all of the sudden my high school principal walked in (his own child was a student at the school)  and said “oh my, Abby Johnson this is the last place I ever expected to see you”. I just laughed and said, I know right. That man is Dr. BJ Worthington who is currently the Chief Academic Officer for our school system. And let me tell you, he is one great role model. His commitment to student achievement is what makes CMCSS one of the top in the state. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have him as a principal. But make no mistake, I KNOW how lucky I am to have him leading this school system.

When I went to college I had BIG plans to change the world. My goal was to return to Clarksville and open a community center for at risk youth. I have always been drawn to children who come from low socioeconomic homes. So, I flipped around from major to major psychology, social work, criminal justice. (No wonder I was on the 6 year plan). Then I took a big jump into early childhood education. One semester I was taking a class about incorporating health into the classroom. I loved that class and the professor was great. Her name is Dr. Rebecca Johns-Wommack and she is currently the Executive Director of TN’s Coordinated School Health. During that class a light bulb went off in my head….. I can teach health and wellness all day. So the next thing I knew I was once again changing my major, this time to health and physical education. At the time my mind was set one one thing…. I wanted to teach high school health and nothing else. My friend and mentor Pam Whitfield’s job is what I had my sights on. My last semester of school I had to do my student teaching. Half the semester I would be a the dreaded elementary school and the other half  I would be at a high school.

Let me just tell you, the world spun on a dime the day I first walked into the gym at Dunlieth Elementary School in Marietta, GA and saw Andrea Gehweiler teach PE. I think in an instant I KNEW that I wanted to do what she did. She is one great mentor, and to this day I am still lucky enough to call her my friend (in fact I talked to her for over an hour tonight and I think she is more excited than anyone about my TOY)

When I moved home and was ready to start my career there were no PE jobs to be had. Luckily, Frank Myers was willing to take a chance on a PE girl who was willing to teach Family and Consumer Science. I will forever be thankful to him, for taking that chance. After two years I finally secured a PE job and was a part of opening the brand new West Creek Elementary School. I loved it there, but my crazy self decided that I liked opening schools and the very next year I was hired to open the next new school in CMCSS, Rossview Elementary.

That brings us to now (sorry for all of the back story – but I wanted to share my journey)

From the moment we opened the doors at Rossview I knew that it was a special place and that it was going to be great. First of all, I am in complete awe of our administration. Paula Ford and Frances Ann Camp are two leaders that I would put up against anyone. A friend of mine and I used to name people that we would take to war with us if we had to go into battle. Well let me tell you, I would be taking these two. Paula for her quick decision making skills and thought process. And Frances Ann for her ability to stay calm in the most chaotic environments (plus – she would be my prayer warrior). Throw my sassy, uneven tempered, stubborn self in the mix and we are a force to me reckoned with. Luckily for me, I know that they support me enough that they would gladly go to war with me any day.

The teachers at Rossview are second to none. These people blow my mind every day. I know people say teachers have it made… I mean they get summers off, spring break, fall break, winter break, etc. etc, etc. Well let me tell you, teaching is no 9-5. You dont drive past our school and not see teachers cars in the parking lot. They are there on nights and weekends preparing for their lessons. And if they are not at school, they are lugging the infamous “teacher bag” home to work on stuff. Not to mention that every school day they are giving their all to the 20-25 smiling and not smiling faces in their classroom. Throughout the day they play teacher, mom, nurse, cheerleader, rule enforcer, entertainer, and every other hat you can name. (none of that is a complaint from me, I dont complain about the things teachers have to do. We chose our careers and no job is perfect. I say that to give credit where credit is due. And teachers deserve A LOT of credit) I love and respect every teacher for their tireless effort to grow students. If I could  I would name every single teacher in our building one by one here. But,  I will just insert standing ovation. (Big thanks to the Kindergarten and first grade teams for letting me do all of my crazy ideas… that sometimes put more work on them)

Shari Myers, OH MYLANTA this woman is amazing. I actually look forward to faculty meetings each week to see what new and exciting things she is going to teach us. And the fact that she always looks for ways to incorporate what she is teaching into special areas is a big huge plus in my book.

And let me not forget the office staff, teacher aides, and custodians. I LOVE these people!!!!!!!!!!!! All of them are there to lend a hand whenever I need it. Plus, they are just funny and fun to be around. In my next life I AM SO working in the front office.

As you can see, my job is easy because the people around me make it easy.

I too am often back in my gym until late at night or found working away in my office on a Saturday. But when you work with the BEST you strive to be the best. My day starts each morning by greeting almost 500 students off the bus. Those warm hugs on a cold morning, high fives, “good morning Mrs. Binkley”, “what are we doing in PE today”, and smiling faces are the absolute perfect way to start any work day. If you are ever in need of some heart warming… come stand at buses with me. Then throughout the day I get to “play”. Don’t misunderstand… I have high expectations. But, come on, we all know PE is fun. Then I end the day waving goodbye to all of those smiling faces. Some reading books, some showing me some cool project they made, some giving hugs as they walk by.

Some would say that the students are “lucky” to have me… but it is totally the other way around. I am the lucky one. Spending my days with 878 awesome kids and 100 of the hardest working people I know……. how could you get any luckier.

Thank you Rossview Elementary School for naming me one of this years Teacher  of The Year. My heart is full and I will sleep sound tonight feeling very blessed.

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