At High Point Discovered, we love telling the stories of “changemakers” in our community – men and women who influence our city and our citizens for good by giving of their own time and resources. And we can’t think of anyone who fits the description of a changemaker better than the teachers who educate our students. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce our second year of High Point’s Extraordinary Educators!
We teamed up with High Point Schools Partnership and High Point Community Foundation to celebrate this year’s Extraordinary Educators and tell their stories. While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from being able to host the celebratory luncheon that we co-hosted last year to recognize the program’s inaugural group of educators (https://barbourspangle.com/introducing-high-points-extraordinary-educators/), we were still thrilled to meet and celebrate this year’s teachers. These individuals have been hand-selected by their administrators for the positive difference they make in their classrooms and schools. These are the educators who consistently go above and beyond to serve their students and students’ families, and it’s not lost on us that particularly this year, all of our educators are having to take their teaching to new levels. As our teachers, students, and parents alike face the new challenge of tackling virtual learning, we find ourselves doubly thankful for this group of adaptable, flexible educators.
To start off our 2020 Extraordinary Educators, we want to introduce you to Brittany Nunes, third grade reading and science teacher at Allen Jay Elementary. Brittany was selected by her principal, Carla Flores-Ballesteros who says about Brittany: “Brittany is not afraid of taking risks in the best interest of her students. She is tech-savvy and is always eager to learn new things to serve and motivate all her students. She is reliable, innovative, and organized.”
For Brittany, her excitement for teaching lies in the excitement for learning she gets to pass on to her students. She says she crafts her lessons in such a way that her students not only learn the object of the lesson but learn the process of learning as well.
One of her favorite teaching moments was born from this kind of learning and teaching style, as she taught her students with a science force and motion project.
“After doing lots of exploration activities using force and motion, I gave students the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test in creating their own carnival game,” Brittany explains. “I watched them use the STEM process we’d learned to plan, create, and test their games. The amount of science vocabulary used in context was like none before. Then, we put on a carnival for the rest of the school. Each game-maker did an absolutely fantastic job explaining the science behind their games, and seeing their pride in their creations was something I’ll never forget.”
A lifelong learner herself, Brittany also notes just how surprised she has been by how much she learns every day about the art of education.
“Most teachers are naturally good at their craft, but the world is ever-changing, and in order to best prepare our students, we must keep up with it,” she says. “I’m always eager to learn how I can be better and do better for my students.”
Brittany adds that she is proud to work for Allen Jay Elementary, a school community that continually pushes to do better for their students by honoring the diversity present in the school’s population.
“As a school, we make sure to honor that diversity to the fullest,” Brittany says. “Our flyers for family nights, school-wide news, and more, are sent out in three languages – English, Spanish, and Urdu. Not only is this amazing because we are able to reach more of our parents, but our teachers spend time translating. They’re better than Google translate!”
Brittany explains that more than just a convenience for families and students, the translation efforts ensure that AJE is a safe and welcoming place.
“Translating our flyers seems simple,” Brittany notes, “but it makes a huge impact on parents whose first language is not English. They feel seen, and in turn, want to be a part of their child’s education.”
Having parents get involved in education is not the only important act of education collaboration to Brittany. She calls teaching a “team sport,” and mentions AJE’s other third grade teachers, JoAnna Robertson and Janet Spencer.
“There is no way I would be able to do my job as well as I do without my teammates, JoAnna and Janet,” Brittany says. “This past school year, we were departmentalized, and we quickly realized the importance of communication and collaboration. It was truly a better year because we learned to trust and rely on each other. JoAnna brings her energy, positivity, and musical ability to everything she does. Janet brings her expertise and lots of bright ideas. Together we made each other better teachers, and I am so grateful for them!”
Ultimately, when her students leave her classroom, Brittany hopes they have internalized three key things: curiosity, kindness, and being valued.
“Kids are naturally curious, and I hope they grow to be adults who are curious about what it’s like in someone else’s shoes, as well as curious about how they can make the world a better place,” Brittany says. “Kind is not always an easy choice, but it is always a choice. I hope my students remember to choose kind. But (possibly most importantly), I hope my students leave my classroom knowing how much I care about them, and how I will forever cherish the time we had together.”
We will be celebrating our educators like Brittany all year, knowing that their work does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. In fact, what they do is crucial to the fabric of our city! We hope you will join us in supporting and celebrating each of our educators over the course of this year, as we share their stories, their school pride, and their hopes for their students.
Keep discovering our High Points,
You can support Brittnay and her students at Allen Jay Elementary by gifting to her classroom through her Amazon wishlist: bit.ly/blueboxteacheramazon.
Photography by Maria West Photography