Teaching citizenship merits recognition

Published 9:52 am Monday, May 1, 2017

Three Franklin teachers have been honored for educating their students about citizenship and American history and values. The recognition of the VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award was made on April 20 by the Sgt. Jayton D. Patterson III Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4411.

The honorees are Kathleen Miller of S.P. Morton Elementary School; Lawren Lee of J.P. King Jr. Middle School; and Teresa Rawlings of Franklin High School.

Ron Richards, the junior vice commander of the post, explained the purpose of the recognition.

“The VFW Teacher of the Year recognizes teachers who instill a sense of national pride in students by teaching citizenship education topics regularly and promoting America’s history and traditions effectively,” he said.

The instructors can be nominated only by either their school or individuals, though not relatives or themselves.

Individuals who wish to nominate a teacher submit to us a 350 words or less nomination letter describing why they feel the teacher should become “Teacher of the Year.” The criteria is:

• The teachers’ innovative teaching method

• The teachers’ resource development methods

• The teachers’ dedication to education

Kathleen Miller

Kathleen Miller, right, receives the Citizenship Education Award from Scott Seddon of the Sgt. Jayton D. Patterson III VFW Post 4411. Miller was nominated by school principal Dr. Sherrie Davis, center. — Submitted

Teaching math to fifth graders might not seem the place to include lessons in citizenship, but Miller does it and apparently well enough to merit recognition.

“At the beginning of the year I work to build a community in the classroom, and let students know that it’s a safe place. In that, I teach citizenship qualities,” she said. Further, Miller encourages teamworks and for students to interact with different people.

A graduate of Kellam High School in Virginia Beach and Liberty University in Lynchburg, this is Miller’s second year as a teacher.

Dr. Sherrie Davis, the principal, wrote this about her:

“Ms. Miller’s main goal as a fifth grade MATH teacher is to make math as exciting, relevant and engaging for students while instilling a long lasting impact on her students’ educational success. In addition to her efforts instructionaly, Ms. Miller’s works diligently to build a rapport with her students and ensures they know she cares by always keeping their best interest in mind.

One of the unique strategies that Ms. Miller utilizes is the Task Card Wall. The Task Card Wall is a bulletin board filled with various activities of all of the standards of learning that has been covered in class. Ms. Miller uses the Task Card Wall as a bridge between activities and to keep engaging and exciting math activities before her students. Ms. Miller also incorporates whole-brain teaching, which consists of immersing the student in learning through song, movement, student teaching, and immediate feedback to increase student engagement. Ms. Miller displays a Growth Mindset in her classroom by teaching her students that their failures are just learning experiences that we improve upon. Ms. Miller’s approach to encouraging her students and demanding their best is very refreshing and exciting.

“Ms. Miller focuses many of her classroom activities on the students working together in small groups, pairs and whole group displaying teamwork. Ms. Miller believes that the teamwork approach helps students take ownership of their learning and behaviors throughout the class. Ms. Miller incorporate PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies) with her teamwork mentality by highlighting the desired behaviors displayed by each team. Students will receive emojis based on working efficiently together, following all classroom rules, being punctual, etc. Ms. Miller implores that highlighting the positive behaviors and allowing students to keep their dignity during discipline aides in building rapport with her students.

“Ms. Miller’s dedication to the students at S.P. Morton Elementary is on display during after school tutoring, her preparation to create innovative and engaging activities and her daily interactions with the students. I am extremely honored to nominate Kathleen Miller for the Smart/Maher National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.”

Lawren Lee

J.P. King Teacher of the Year Lawren Lee, center, receives the Citizenship Education Award from Scott Seddon of the Sgt. Jayton D. Patterson III VFW Post 4411. Lee was nominated by Principal LIsa Francis, at right.

Lee, who teaches eighth grade civics and economics, wasn’t even aware she had been nominated by her principal, Lisa Francis, and was surprised by the announcement.

A 2004 graduate of Southampton High School, Lee furthered her studies at St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville. A teacher for seven years, this is her fourth at J.P. King.

“I’ve always been interested in history,” she said, adding that her teaching method includes daily relating current events as well as doing activities that could interest the students and apply to the rest of their lives.

“I try to give my love of history to them,” Lee said, adding, “My secret to success is building positive relationships with my students.”

Teresa Rawlings

Chiquita Seaborne, coordinator of secondary instruction, had this to say in her nomination:

Franklin HIgh School Teacher of the Year Theresa Rawlings,right, receives the Citizenship Education Award from Scott Seddon of the Sgt. Jayton D. Patterson III VFW Post 4411. Lee was nominated by Chiquita Seaborne, center, coordinator of secondary instruction.

“It is my distinct pleasure to recommend Ms. Teresa Rawlings for the VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award. Ms. Rawlings works diligently to provide rigorous and engaging lessons for the students enrolled in government classes at Franklin High School. She teaches students the importance of being productive citizens in their prospective communities as well as how the political processes work in local, state, and national government. She incorporates real-world experiences into instruction to ensure that it is meaningful for students. Ms. Rawlings consistently provides the specialized instruction that many of the students need. She is creative in her methods to ensure that students with disabilities master the learning objectives just as their non-disabled peers do.

“A major component of the government class is registering students to vote. Ms. Rawlings is instrumental in helping to register students and teaching them about their right to vote. She is a resident of Franklin who prides herself in attending various events as well as volunteering. Ms. Rawlings not only teaches her students how to be productive citizens, but she also models this for students as well as colleagues. Her 20-plus years of experience at FHS proves to be valuable as she mentors new teachers in the history department. Her colleagues look to her for strategies to improve engagement as well as creative ways to assess student learning.

“Ms. Rawlings is most deserving of this honor and would appreciate being recognized for her dedication to Franklin High School’s students.”

Principal Travis Felts added, “Rawlings does an outstanding job, not only with our exceptional education students, but also our regular education students in government and U.S. History.”

He also said that she is FHS Teacher of the Year for 2016-2017, and has been an outstanding teacher for many years. “She’s able to connect and work with some of our most challenging students.”