Sarah "Becky" Poole

Jay Elementary

In working with our most at-risk students in 6th grade, our nominee demonstrates an approach driven by empathy for her students who struggle with low self-esteem as a result of their learning difficulties and life experiences. Working with these students entails far more than academic support. It involves tackling behavioral problems, truancy, low academic performance, showing a lack of interest for academics, and expressing a disconnection from the school environment. Our nominee has an innate understanding of these barriers her students face, and she quickly began to establish relationships with each student.  She is constantly seeking out opportunities to spend time outside of their academic day to really get to know them and to demonstrate her genuine concern for their well-being. Her calming, genuine manner paired with her endless efforts to relate to her students has opened the door for her to break through some of the barriers these students encounter. It is heartwarming to see these adolescent students responding to instruction instead of giving up or simply not showing up. This is where our nominee has embraced the power of feedback with her students which is linked to the development of conscious competence and is an integral part of engaging and effective learning. It helps students understand the concepts being learned, points out their mistakes, and gives them direction on how to improve or fill the gaps in their learning without causing them to shut down. Their confidence, self- awareness, and academic stamina have slowly begun to improve. She truly has a gift for reaching at risk students who might seem to others as unreachable. She not only has earned the respect of her peers, but she's setting an example that we all should emulate.