When Aneisha Coffield was eight years old, she would watch her aunt, Lizzie Mae. Lizzie Mae was a teacher who not only exhibited the qualities of a good teacher in the classroom but out of it as well.
Young Aneisha would watch her beloved aunt interact with people, bringing grace, intelligence, and confidence to every situation. And she was closely involved in her students’ lives, even taking tickets at the gate for Friday football and basketball games, bringing a friendly, warm demeanor to her students.
And none of this went unnoticed by little Aneisha.
“I watched her very closely – how she spoke to people, how she carried herself, how she explained things,” Aneisha recalls. “She always struck me as someone very bright and knowledgeable. I knew I wanted to be like her someday.”
When Lizzie Mae gave her niece old math workbooks and worksheets from her classroom, Aneisha immediately began using them to play school with her peers. Her father even helped her turn her childhood bedroom into a mini classroom – complete with a teacher’s desk, chair, typewriter, and more.
“These were the early years of an aspiring math teacher!” Aneisha says.
Fast forward to today, and Aneisha is now living out her childhood dream as a sixth-grade math teacher at Southwest Guilford Middle School. She channels into her classroom the same intelligence, poise, and energy that she observed from her aunt throughout her life.
Nominated as Extraordinary Educator by her principal, Dr. Arlisa Armond, Aneisha is now known as a leader in her classroom.
“Ms. Coffield builds strong relationships with students and inspires them to achieve beyond their own imaginations,” says Dr. Armond. “She embodies excellence and expects great things from all of her students.”
While math may be dreaded by some, for the students in Aneisha’s classroom, they get a healthy dose of fun when it comes to learning their subject.
“I hope my students conclude that math really is fun to learn. It’s okay to make mistakes and ask questions; it’s all a part of the process of learning,” Aneisha says, adding that she makes it her goal for her students to know their overall wellbeing is part of her classroom care as well.
“Coming into the teaching profession, my idea of a great teacher was someone who taught content well,” she adds. “Each year, I find that I spend about 80% of my time establishing a good rapport with my students and about 20% of the time teaching.”
Aneisha has learned that content comes much more easily to students when they are learning in an environment they feel safe in and learning from someone they know cares deeply about them. Just like she learned from observing her Aunt Lizzie Mae’s life, Aneisha recognizes that her students are constantly observing her, watching how she carries herself, and understanding how she cares for them.
“Content is made simpler when you have a good rapport with your students and parents,” Aneisha explains. “Students are more apt to learn from a teacher they like, respect, and who has their best interest at heart.”
Aneisha, who values the diversity present in the Southwest Middle students and staff, is also thankful her school values unity, cohesion, and strong relationships. It’s that culture that makes her classroom culture possible.
“Each day I am given an opportunity to add to my students’ tool belts for life,” she says. “Whether it’s teaching math content, building character, providing structure, or offering support, I am thankful for the opportunity to add value to their lives each day.”
Discover our High Points,
The HPD Team
Photography by Maria West Photography