Each year during the first full week of May, communities celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week. Educators are a key piece in the development of future generations.
Working for others is a praiseworthy task. Generating knowledge and skills in people, noble.
The national recognition of teachers once a year is wonderful. But the truth is that we should honor them every day for devoting their lives to teaching.
Education has changed a lot in the last decades. It is still transforming. But if there is an essential figure in the whole learning process and that is the teacher.
To be a teacher is not to possess all wisdom. It is to be a guide who understands and helps students gain and use knowledge. A teacher motivates and brings out the best of his students. A teacher is the one that positively transforms society. A great teacher generates culture, ideas, talent and values.
For all this and much more, we recognize the daily work of these ‘Rock Stars‘ who accompany us from a very early age.
This simple article is to thank at least a small part of their dedication. I couldn’t visit every teacher in Aldine nor write each one’s story. Instead I asked one early childhood/prekindergarten teacher to share her story.
Jill Charrier’s teaching career began 13 years in Aldine ISD. Before coming to the District, Charrier was living in the upper Midwest. She had recently graduated from college when she saw an Aldine ISD advertisement in a local paper. She read about AISD’ prekindergarten education program. The District currently has eight early childhood education campuses. She made the move and began teaching at Hinojosa Early Childhood/Prekindergarten and Head Start Center. She continues to work there today targeting English language learners.
“After doing some research, Aldine impressed me.,” said Charrier. I felt that this was a community I would like to be a part of. And it was the best decision I made. Everyone strives to provide the best experiences for our young learners,” Charrier said. “My colleagues inspire me every day with their passion and commitment to students. We focus on preparing our students for their future success.”
Aldine ISD proved a good fit for Charrier. She shared she felt supported as a new teacher and still feels that way as a veteran teacher. She particularly enjoys the Professional Learning Communities where teachers collaborate to ensure all students are making progress.
In 2012, she received the District’s Elementary/Intermediate Teacher of the Year Award. That same year, the Suburban Houston Association for Bilingual Education (SHABE) recognized Charrier. She earned the association’s Elementary English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher of the Year Award.
Teaching is not a job—it is a calling for Charrier. Since she was a young girl, Charrier knew she would become a teacher. She wanted to do what other teachers had done for her in her life.
“My favorite teachers did more than teach me the three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic),” said Charrier. “They challenged me, demanded my best, and pushed me. They believed in me. I hope that I inspire my students as much as my teachers inspired me.”
According to Charrier, students’ first year of school is their most important. It is instrumental to students’ success. Early childhood education is an important and fundamental stage of learning. During early childhood, there is a rapid phase of growth and development. Their brains develop faster than at any other point in their lives, so these years are critical. Early childhood education develops and nurtures important foundations like social skills and self-esteem.
Charrier’s Key Factors to Success
Charrier begins each day with the classroom Morning Meeting. It’s a relationship-building exercise where everyone shares and listens to each other. It is a simple task but the message is important: Everyone matters.
“Every student matters to me,” Charrier said. “Their struggles are my struggles. Their victories are my victories. And every year when the students leave my classroom ready for the next grade level, my heart swells with pride. That is why I teach.”
One of Charrier’s fondest memories growing up is when she was about four years old. She and all the other students sat gathered around her teacher. Charrier recalls that her teacher hugged a book like it was a cherished present. She doesn’t remember the story itself. Maybe it was the way her teacher read the story. What she does remember is the mesmerizing effect it had on her. Reading and stories forever changed her life. As a teacher, she wanted to have that same impact on my young students.
Yet, year after year she struggled to keep her students’ attention during story time. Charrier felt she couldn’t get them to develop that same passion for literacy she had as a child. She decided to do something to change that.
Charrier and some colleagues got the chance to travel to several European countries. They visited the settings that served as inspiration of many enchanted fairy tales. The goal was to help students find the magic within stories. If the child is willing and interested enough, they will want to learn to read. They will want to engage in opportunities to learn. To get students motivated, learning needs to be fun and child-directed.
They also attended storytelling festivals and worked with a famous storyteller. The experience helped them see these stories through young children’s eyes. They learned how to make stories more interactive. Charrier shared that it forever changed the way she tells stories.
She recounted the story of a former student, Eric. It was after her return from abroad and the first day of school. Eric let her know that he “hated school and wanted to go home.” A week later, he still indicated he would rather be home to watch TV and that he didn’t like books. Charrier ruffled his hair and told him that soon he would change his mind. She continued to read stories.
Over the next several months, she noticed Eric inching closer and closer to her during story time. Soon he was always in the very front row, leaning in as she said the magical words “once upon a time.”
“Yes, Eric. They still are,” Charrier replied.
Director of Written Communication & Spanish Media
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