Written by Mia Ruffin, AmeriCorps Member serving on the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation Team at Winbourne Elementary

Sometimes, to truly appreciate someone’s journey, you have to see how their values align with your own. In celebration of Teacher’s Appreciation Week, the Winbourne Elementary City Year team reflects on how the teachers we see everyday embody the ten City Year values.

  1. Service to a Cause Greater Than Self -- The daily experience of being a teacher demands an allegiance to a cause greater than self. Each school day commands the entirety of an instructor: financially, physically, mentally, emotionally and more. It may be one of the most self-involved careers a person can choose. The amount of goodwill possible is boundless. Mr. Wendell works with Mrs. Anderson in a fourth grade math classroom.

  2. Students First, Collaboration Always -- There are a number of classroom teachers that also serve on the Winbourne Elementary PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) team. The team is a mix of faculty members, all with ideas for upcoming initiatives and an excitement for their students. This team creates and incentivizes schoolwide goals, which leads to focused growth and more moments of joy in the school. Ms. Emily is the Winbourne Elementary Attendance and Behavior AmeriCorps member. She is also a member of the school’s PBIS team.

  3. Belief in the Power of Young People  -- Mr. Watkins, the music teacher, leads a fantastic choral program each time the school has an assembly. His faith in their talents encourages the kids to take their time and efforts seriously. Countless tears and cheers have followed their powerful performances this year. Mr. Dylan partners with permanent substitutes in a third grade contained classroom.

  4. Social Justice for All -- There is always a new student at Winbourne. Our teachers model their lesson plans according to district scheduling. This does not mean that new students are left behind, though. Our teachers subscribe to “PITW #74: Train Someone Else … To Do It” without knowing it. When leading whole class lessons, and CY corps members can’t reach those students, our teachers assign high skilled students to tutor their newer classmates. The tutors exercise their knowledge and the new students are brought closer to the classroom’s level. All students are served in one lesson. Ms. Brittany works Mrs. Brooks in a fourth grade math classroom.

  5. Level Five Leadership -- Daily grade level meetings serve multiple purposes. This includes data review, team lesson planning, and a chance to share best practices. As corps members, we have seen these meetings bring plenty of emotions out of our partner teachers. Their strategies and progress have been challenged numerous times. The humility to receive constant criticism and the strong will to stand beside your beliefs and practices are the two elements of City Year’s Level Five Leadership. Ms. Swetha (pictured at top) works with Ms. Norman in a third grade contained classroom.

  6. Empathy -- Our students have their share of issues in life and at home, and that affects their focus in school. Thus, our teachers must have consistent contact with their students’ parents. The teachers alter their days and lessons to the concerns of their students. By nature, our teachers are empathetic to the unexpected in their students’ lives. Ms. Mia works with Mrs. Locure in a third grade contained classroom.

  7. Inclusivity  -- At Winbourne Elementary, the grade level teacher teams do monthly events to appreciate faculty and staff. Food is almost always at the center of these gestures. Every person that works to ensure that the students have a successful day at school are included in the appreciation, which is such a beautiful and delicious truth. Ms. Janae is the team’s Senior AmeriCorps Member.

  8. Ubuntu  -- Each second of instruction is valuable to our teachers but they also know the advantages of a large community. Through the year our students have met local firefighters, the Louisiana Beta Chapter of the Pi Beta Phi, multiple local chapters of Omega Psi Phi, and D.A.R.E. offices. Our teachers create time in their day and space in their classrooms for the world to come and join the lesson. Mr. Troy is the team’s impact manager.

  9. Teamwork -- Each grade level’s teacher team runs like a well-oiled machine. Each teacher knows her students, and they are familiar with their peers. Collaboration could not be more natural to our teachers if they tried.  Ms. Moon works with Ms. Armstrong in a third grade contained classroom. Ms. Armstrong leads the third grade planning team.

  10. Excellence -- Winbourne Elementary’s school-wide expectations are simple and clear. “Be respectful. Be responsible. Be ready.” Every morning, our teachers hear their students repeat this mantra after the pledge. How can you not be excellent when you are respectful, responsible and ready? Ms. Leah works with Mrs. Verrett in a fourth grade ELA classroom.

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