The Chicago Bulls and Kia Motors will be honoring Chicago Public School (CPS) Elementary School teachers for their hard work and dedication in the classroom through the "Kia Educator of the Month" program. We are calling on all students, fellow teachers and/or administrators from CPS elementary schools to nominate an educator by following instructions below:
From November 2012 through April 2013, one nominee will be selected per month as our Kia Educator of the Month. Nominators will be asked to fill out an application and write a 250 word essay explaining why they are nominating the educator for the program. Monthly winners will receive the following items:
- Two tickets to a pre-determined Bulls home game, where the winner will be honored during a pregame ceremony
- Check presentation for $1,000 towards teacher classroom use
- An official Kia Educator of the Month Award
- Special teacher profile on bulls.com
Kia Educator of the Month - February 2013
Dr. Shelby Wyatt, Kenwood Academy, Guidance Counselor
(Wyatt joined by Brad Holt, Regional Parts and Service Manager, Kia Motors, in the photo below)
How long have you been teaching? What grade do you teach?
I have been an educator for 26 years. I began as a day to day substitute teacher in 1987, taught business education at Sycamore High School, and currently serve as a professional school counselor at Kenwood Academy.
Why did you decide you wanted to be a teacher? Are there any particular teachers who have influenced you in the past?
I became a teacher because of my uncle James Wright, Jr. who taught music in elementary school for over 30 years. I was influenced by my senior English Teacher Mrs. Benecia Williams.
Describe your favorite teaching memory or experience.
My favorite teaching memory is when the light bulb comes on and students realize the importance of education as the catalyst for success. A current example happened when a graduating senior kept begging me to allow him to drop an Advanced Placement (AP) class because it was too difficult. I explained to him the importance of completing this rigorous course in order to prepare for college. He had a fear of failure and did not want his grade point average to decrease. Although I gave him several study strategies, he believed that he would fail the course. Eventually he decided to trust me by utilizing my strategies and stayed in the course. It was a difficult process which caused him to struggle throughout the course. He constantly came to me for reassurance that he was doing the right thing. He barely passed the course and did not immediately see the importance of the struggle. He attends a college in downtown Chicago. I bumped into him on the CTA. He was carrying a large portfolio case in addition to his college book bag. When he saw me he immediately started talking about his college courses. He opened up his book bag and shared with me in delight the subjects that he was taking. His face showed excitement as he showed me an architectural blueprint that was in the portfolio. I started to get up as my stop was approaching. Devonte grabbed me by my arm and said thank you. When I inquired why he replied, “You believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I’m glad you made me stay in the AP class. It showed me that I can be successful. It taught me to not run from challenges. It taught me that I had to figure things out instead of giving up. It prepared me for college. I know I can now do this if I try.” That was one of my favorite teaching experiences.
How do teachers/educators impact the lives of their students? What do you hope that you personally can do to have a positive impact on the students you work with?
Teachers make an impact on students by showing them how to accept education as the key to success. That requires educators to be non-judgmental. It requires that we use creative techniques in our application to keep students interested in learning. I try to provide a positive impact on my students by continuously providing hope using education as the great equalizer. I assess the issues, challenges and trends that kids face and provide enrichment opportunities to counteract their negative experiences. As a professional school counselor I take a holistic approach in educating a child.
Describe how your professional role has made an impact thus far. What goals, if any, have you set in an effort to make even more of a difference in the future?
My professional role has empowered many students to choose education as the catalyst for success. Many have gone on to pursue a post-secondary education in various careers. One of my main goals is to encourage students to become lifelong learners. I explain that learning is not confined to the four walls of a classroom, but should be continuous after graduation. Learning will be continuous as long as its fueled by curiosity. Curiosity promotes learning. I encourage my students to remain curious about life. I also encourage them to always be in a place that positively satisfies their curiosity and increases their knowledge base through learning.
If your students could end each school year having learned only one thing, what would you want that to be?
Do not allow the fear of failure to prevent you from reaching your future successes. I teach my students to be cognizant of this fear and develop strategies to overcome it so that they will not become complacent in mediocrity.
What was your reaction when you learned that you were nominated, and then when you were selected as the Kia Educator of the Month?
I was elated that Rachel nominated me for this great honor. It was a great surprise to be selected as educator of the month. I don’t ever expect to be recognized for the service that I provide to my students. I am rewarded each time I feel they accept the education of their mind as the key to immediate and future success.
As Teacher of the Month, how will you spend your $1,000 award money?
The entire $1000 will be given to the Kenwood Academy Brotherhood school based mentoring organization to assist in covering the travel expenses for the 2013 spring break college tour to universities in Iowa. The Brotherhood does not receive funding from the Chicago Public Schools. Many of its members are unable to afford the $200 cost to see that being successful in college is possible.
The Brotherhood (www.kenwoodbrotherhood.com) is an organization that I created to promote graduation rates and postsecondary plans among adolescent males. Initially, because of the dismal national graduation rates, the activity that involves academic achievement, personal/social development, career exploration, and cultural comprehension was created for adolescent African American males. But over time, the membership of the Brotherhood has become diverse to attract males of all ethnicities to want to learn how to become leaders for themselves, their families, and their school and within their communities. The uniqueness of this organization has also attracted females to also join in support of empowering males to choose education as the catalyst for success.