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It All Adds Up for Excellence in Teaching Winner

Note: This is one in a series recognizing winners of the 2021-22 NHA Excellence Awards, a program that honors educators, deans, and administrative teams across our network.

For 26 years, Felita Mitchell traveled about a half hour each day from Lafayette, Louisiana, to New Iberia to teach before deciding to make a change and get off the road. The qualities she was looking for in a school happened to be close to home at Willow Charter Academy.

In her interview, she loved the setup of the school and the staff, and quickly her decision was fortified.
“The first day when I met everyone when I was being interviewed, I got attached right then and there because everyone was so pleasant, polite, and inviting,” she said. “It was wonderful. Everyone is so kind and helpful and always there when you need them. The students are amazing, so well mannered.”

Mitchell just finished her fourth year at Willow and was honored as an Excellence in Teaching winner as part of the National Heritage Academies (NHA) Excellence Awards for the 2021-22 school year.

Felita Mitchell with group of teachers.
Math teacher Felita Mitchell, third from left, was named an Excellence in Teaching winner for the 2021-22 school year.

She started out at Willow, which earned an A in growth on the state report card, as a special education teacher and now teaches 6-7th grade math. She has helped students progress through their own success stories in her time as a special education teacher.

“It’s hard but they truly grew a lot because I’m the type of teacher, I like to pull my kids out and work with them individually to make sure they would grow, and they did,” she said. “That was amazing, and I see that with the kids in my classroom now.”

Now as a math teacher, Mitchell uses numbers to motivate her students. The data wall in her classroom tracks their scores after taking assessments or exit tickets.

Felita Mitchell has taught at Willow Charter Academy for four years.

“I want my kids to see where they are. It’s like having a folder in their hands to see where I’m at right now and where I need to go,” she said. “It helps that to say, ‘I’m at a basic right now, but I need to move up to mastery because Miss Mitchell said within a year or two, basic won’t matter.’ It details their level of each standard and gives them areas of improvement they can work on.”

Jennifer Gordon, Willow principal for the 2021-22 school year, said Mitchell builds meaningful and unique relationships with every scholar she teaches and sets high expectations. Her results-driven environment propels students to reach their maximum potential.

“Teaching is what I love to do. It’s my passion,” Mitchell said. “There’s nothing else I would rather do than teach children.”

Keep up the excellent work, Mrs. Mitchell!

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About Willow Charter Academy:
Willow Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Lafayette, Louisiana, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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