The Innovative Teacher of the Year program was started at the school in 2013-2014. The purpose is to recognize effective teachers who increase student achievement through instructional practices. Teachers in grades K-8 are eligible to be nominated by peers based on criteria set by the program. A selection committee screens nominations to choose a finalist and winner.
Roach teaches kindergarten and is a first-year teacher. “I feel completely overwhelmed and grateful to receive this award. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be part of the Confluence Academy-Old North family,” she said.
Brenson teaches first grade and is in her third year at Old North.
“I was honored when I was nominated for the Innovative Teacher award, and I’m proud to be chosen as the runner up,” said Brenson. “It feels good to be appreciated for all the hard work and dedication I put into molding my students to be successful and productive leaders in today’s society.”
Roach received $500, a golden apple plaque, a certificate and an apple hat, created by the art teacher. Brenson received $250, a silver plaque, a certificate and an apple hat.
The TOY award is presented during Teacher Appreciation Week. So, it’s fitting to ask when they realized that being a teacher was meaningful.
“I realized that being a teacher was meaningful for me after receiving a letter from one of my former fourth grade students about how she appreciated everything I did and taught her,” said Brenson. “Her gesture really touched me and made me reflect on the important task I have every day as an educator.”
“I grew up knowing that teaching was what I was meant to do. As I taught kindergarten this year and saw my students blossom and grow, I realized just how meaningful teaching is for me. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” said Roach.
Both teachers have advice about being innovative in the classroom.
“First, be patient. If a strategy, concept or skill that you are trying to implement doesn’t work, don’t give up. Use resources and try, try again. Pinterest is great! Second, self-reflect and don’t be afraid to ask for advice,” said Brenson.
“Invest in your students personally and be responsive to their needs,” said Roach. “Relationships are what make a difference. If students feel cared for, safe, loved and believed in, they are going to succeed. Be teachable and seek out advice and help from those with more experience. Don’t be afraid when things don’t go perfect. Use those moments to learn and grow.”