Ask almost any teacher why they teach and they’ll probably share that they love seeing the moment when a student goes from a listener to a learner. Call it a “lightbulb moment,” or an “aha moment,” or the moment when “it clicks,” the men and women who empower our students to connect the pieces of their education to the real world devote their lives to these moments. Today’s Extraordinary Educators, Adrian Salter and Barb Collins both believe those moments are what make their work in the classroom so worthwhile.
“Develop study skills and work ethic early. Your academic career will be so much easier in the long run. Enjoy being a kid; don’t grow up too fast.”
Adrian Salter, fifth grade math teacher at Allen Jay Elementary celebrated her 25th anniversary this past year at AJE. Her devotion to the AJE community and students is what motivated her principal, Carla Flores-Ballesteros, to nominate Adrian as an Extraordinary Educator.
“Adrian has had boundless energy in her service of AJE students, families, and colleagues for the last 24 years,” Carla said. And Adrian pointed to the source of that energy when we spoke with her.
“A student was finally making progress with a particular math concept,” she recounts. “One day I made a mistake while demonstrating how to solve a problem. She not only realized my mistake, she then solved the problem correctly. She was so excited, and I was so proud.”
Along with her supportive coworkers, Adrian also points to the individuality and energy of each student as a motivator for her.
“I love the students,” she says. “I teach the same subject three times a day. Each lesson is different because of the knowledge, energy, and personalities students bring to class. They make school interesting; it is never boring.”
After 25 years at the same school, Adrian shares her passion for AJE and the way its diversity strengthens every member of its community:
“Allen Jay is a member of a very diverse community. We are proud of our diversity. Embracing our differences allows us to learn about and from one another thereby, making us an even stronger community.”
“Try your best and don’t give up. If you don’t try, you have no idea what you can do!”
Barb Collins is a kindergarten teacher at Northwood Elementary. After receiving Teacher of the Year honors in 2018, Barb was nominated by her principal, Susan Steen, as an Extraordinary Educator. She, like Adrian, also prizes the moments when learning clicks into place for her students.
“I think any moment when you see a student make that connection in learning, the “I got it” and the smile and pride that they show is memorable,” Barb says.
As a teacher that helps our youngest students just beginning their educational journey, Barb notes that she is most excited when she is told that she is encouraging, patient, and consistent with her students.
“A student of mine, that has graduated from college, when visiting told me that I always made him feel special and that he could do anything he wanted in life,” she says.
Every day, she is motivated knowing that each day holds something new – both for her students and herself. And at the heart of her teaching journey in High Point, she believes that our schools are filled with deeply caring people.
“Northwood is composed of some very caring people,” Barb says. “People that care for the children, parents and the community. They go above and beyond daily to try and meet the students’ needs, both educationally and personally.”
Discovering our High Points,
Photography by Maria West Photography