The teachers representing our 98 schools amaze us daily with their ability to connect, care, and create opportunities for our scholars, and for that we are thankful. Here are a few of their stories from Colorado, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!
Jaime Alva, third-grade teacher, Foundations Academy, Brighton, CO
Foundations Academy third-grade teacher Jaime Alva loves to see growth in her students throughout the school year, but she also strives to strengthen relationships among her fellow teachers.
Alva, who is in her fourth year at Foundations, has created a secret pal program as sort of a “Secret Santa” but all year long. Each month she pairs up staff members to receive treats and gifts. She also serves on the school’s staff engagement committee and summer learning leadership team.
“Jaime is an incredible team player and member of our staff,” said Principal Kay Collins. “Not only does she seek to make connections with her students and families in the classroom, but she also goes above and beyond to make our school a great place to work.”
Alva finds the ever-evolving nature of teaching appealing. When scholars connect with the material, it gives her a yearly dose of inspiration.
“Every year you get new students, new challenges, new pieces to your curriculum, new everything,” she said. “There is always something you can reflect on. I love that I can constantly reflect upon myself to make sure that I am being the best teacher that I can be for my students.
“I love being able to help students reach their potential and see their lightbulbs click on. There is no better feeling than helping a struggling student and seeing their eyes lighten when they finally understand something that they’ve been working hard to understand.”
One instance of growth occurred when Alva gave a student struggling with difficult behaviors a leadership opportunity in the classroom to make him feel more connected. It worked, and his difficult behaviors improved.
“She thinks outside the box when problem solving,” said Libby Rowe, dean at Foundations. “We are so grateful to have Jaime on staff here at Foundations!”
Thank you for all you do, Jamie!
Kristen Singles, library technology specialist, Mountain View Academy, Colorado Springs, CO
Kristen Singles has fully immersed herself in her first experience working for a charter school.
Singles, the library technology specialist at Mountain View Academy (MVA), has run afterschool clubs, created a K-2 library for students to check out and return books, and handles technology requests for scholars and staff since being hired in 2020.
“I love working for NHA! My passion for teaching comes from a love of working with children and sharing a love of life-long learning,” she said.
Providing technical support for the school requires Singles to keep up on a constantly changing and wide-ranging field, but she is up to the task.
“As a technology teacher I am often learning something new shortly before teaching it to them,” she said. “Technology is ever-changing and keeps my love of life-long learning alive!”
In her relatively short time at Mountain View, Singles has made her mark by connecting with students beyond the school walls.
“Kristen Singles is a teacher that makes MVA the best place for students,” said Mountain View Principal Amanda Ortiz-Torres. “She strives to do and be the best every day. She leads with high expectations for her students by integrating critical thinking skills into daily instruction.
“Mrs. Singles is always the first one to step up to run an after-school club. She recently took our middle school students to High Trails (outdoor education camping trip). She is top-notch and completes the MVA team!”
Thank you for all you do, Kristen!
Felita Mitchell, Special Education Teacher, Willow Charter Academy, Lafayette, LA
Willow Charter Academy Special Education Teacher Felita Mitchell knows the importance of her work and enjoys a reciprocal learning relationship with her students. Her teaching journey began 28 years ago, and she has been at Willow for three years.
“I remind myself of the blessings God has bestowed upon me,” Mitchell said. “Through my blessings, I have watched my students blossom, my school experience failures and successes and yes, even I have blossomed. My students have taught me as much if not more than I have taught them. They have been a true blessing.”
Her understanding of the teacher-student relationship is vital to her efforts.
“I have enjoyed the challenges I have faced with these different learners,” she said. “It has helped me to grow as a person and as a professional.”
Andrea Robert, Willow’s dean of middle school, said Mitchell is the prime example of what a teacher should be.
“She shows up every day with the scholars, school, and parents in mind,” Robert said. “She teaches bell to bell with the same energy she exhibited on the first day of school. She effectively drives her instruction using data. I wish more scholars could experience the teachings of Mrs. Mitchell on their educational journey. She is one of the reasons I am passionate about education.”
Mitchell said she’s driven by the fact that the students cannot grow if they stay stagnant. The learning journey must continue.
“We are entrusted with young minds and hearts,” she said. “We have, by far, the most important job in our society. We are the molders of their futures and models of their present days. Teaching is my passion, it’s who I am. It is the joy and sunshine in my life.”
Thank you for investing so much in our scholars, Felita!
Kendall Stadie, second-grade teacher, Milwaukee Scholars Charter School, Milwaukee, WI
Kendall Stadie has proven herself to be a natural in her profession. Stadie is a second-grade teacher at Milwaukee Scholars Charter School in her third year of teaching.
“Her ability to form relationships with each scholar in her care is beyond amazing and is only a small piece of her positive impact on scholars,” Milwaukee Scholars Principal Nikole Laskov said. “Her scholars, their families and her colleagues adore and admire her. During her time here, she has gone above and beyond the responsibilities of her job to provide the best possible educational experience for children.”
Stadie has enthusiastically volunteered for coaching duties, as well, even if the specific sport is not her area of expertise, she is willing to give it a try for the students.
“The first thing that comes to mind is being ‘always willing to help,’” Athletic Director David Anderson said. “Ms. Stadie has coached several athletic teams during her time here because she adheres to the motto, ‘see a need, fill a need.’ Every scholar and athlete that interacts with Ms. Stadie is blessed with her talents and incredible work ethic. Our school would not be the same without her.”
Stadie shares what excites her about teaching is “watching my scholars’ data grow and hearing their conversations about their own data. There is really something special about hearing a group of second graders talking about their proficiency and how many standards they have mastered for our grade level.”
Yolanda Allen, dean of lower elementary, says Stadie “is truly the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time)!
“Ms. Stadie exemplifies professionalism tempered by luminescent humanity. While the number of years that she has taught is few, her quality far overshadows that. Ms. Stadie approaches each scholar with a growth mindset, personalizing the learning and growth experience for each one.”
Stadie loves watching her scholars grow throughout the year, including her past scholars.
“The changes that happen from the first day to the last day is truly incredible. I have loved watching my previous classes grow up and become amazing young adults,” Stadie said.
“During the pandemic, Miss Stadie visited every single student at their home multiple times, each time delivering loads of supplies, learning resources and encouragement,” Laskov said. “She always volunteers for any opportunity to interact with scholars and families or to support school initiatives.”
Stadie has a very calming effect on students when dealing with their behaviors. “She uses many different incentives for appropriate behavior and involves parents when there are inappropriate behaviors. The students respect and love her, which goes a long way towards their academic and all-around success,” Terri Wedal, social worker, said.
Keep up the good and enthusiastic work with our scholars Kendall!
Check out a school near you!
National Heritage Academies (NHA) is a network of 100 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
Visit Willow Charter Academy's blog to read more stories like this.