Kitty Hawk Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Diane Childress
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Diane Childress is Kitty Hawk Elementary School's Teacher of the Year. This is the second time in less than 10 years she has had the title. Educated at the College of Wooster, Ohio, for her undergrad degree, she's obtained two master's degrees. The first from National Louis University in Evanston, Il in Interdisciplinary Studies and Curriculum; and on May of 2013 from East Carolina University, a Master's in School Administration.  She renewed her National Board Certification in 2010. She's been teaching since 1994, in Dare County at Kitty Hawk Elementary since August of 2003. She is the National Board Support Group Facilitator for Dare County. She serves on her school's Common Core Literacy Team, and chairs the school's Positive Behavior Support Team. 

Although she cites a positive school experience, and a family of teachers who loved what they did, the final factor that influenced her to become a teacher is children. "No matter what their ages, I always enjoyed spending time with kids," she says. "And after twenty-two years of teaching, one of my greatest accomplishments is my willingness to be a life-long learner and realization that I can always improve my practice." 

"Going through the National Board Process has made me a better teacher. It made me more reflective and I think that if we could encourage our educators to reflect on what they teach and why they teach it, and then compare what they are doing to the National Board standards, we'd have more teachers who are discussing best practices during professional learning communities and stepping out of their comfort zones to try something new. I believe teachers need to be reflective, think about their students, think about their lessons, and make sure their students are learning.  If I am personalizing instruction in the best way possible, I'm able to tweak my lessons so that I can build in students' strengths, weaknesses, and affinities. Also, I can create learning teams that are built on the same foundation where students can learn from and with each other."

Dave Guiley is Assistant Principal at KHES. "When I need an honest assessment of a situation, I ask her (he says of Childress)Her clear clear-sightedness and candor are defining character traits that are invaluable assets to me. She brings this same honesty and perceptiveness to her work in the classroom and with her fellow teachers," says Guiley. "I am in her classroom regularly, and it is indeed a learning laboratory. I have observed lessons in literacy and reading, and science and math. They all have one thing in common: students are learning. Diane Childress brings an energy to the classroom that is contagious, and her students respond in kind."

Evelyn Reid is the school counselor. Reid says, "She likes to contact all of her students' parents within the first two weeks of school. She understands that a good rapport with parents is what helps her students understand that she is going to do whatever it takes to help them succeed. She makes sure there are multiple opportunities for parents to come in to see performances, presentations, and to help out in the classroom."

Jean Sias, grandmother, is a retired educator from New York who has volunteered in Childress' classroom. "Diane Childress is an experienced teacher who has the ability to use many different teaching strategies to meet the diverse learning styles that the children in her classroom represent. She has a natural gift of sincere communication with the children. Her calm and confident personality allows the classroom environment to be a place of successful learning, joy and respect for one another."

Childress says that "Children, no matter their age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity or ability, are like sponges. If we build relationship with them and make sure they know we care, they will learn. They will discuss. They will discover. They will take risks!
 
"I've found that the use of student learning teams, as well as the integration of technology, when done right, are huge motivators for students. My facilitation of student learning teams, after explicit modeling and quality instruction, allows them to show me and their classmates what they know and again, they are in charge of their learning.

"In order to teach effectively, I believe that a teacher needs to teach the whole child. She needs to build background, help the child make connections, and build trust. I am here to help them with school lessons and life lessons as well."