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Tyronna Hooker

Teacher of the Year - North Carolina

1

Life happens and we can either be bitter or better.

I have learned that life is an unpredictable experience that forces us to find the strength inside and the lens we choose to use to view things. We have the right to be better or bitter on a daily basis. The ability to look beyond the current circumstance and see the possible outcome is difficult. I have learned that the potential to change anything begins with the willingness to try. The journey is often up hill and the scenery changes but I choose to focus on the outcome. I imagine the end as it will be, rather than how it looks or feels at this current moment. How will I achieve my purpose if I allow my present position and or emotions to determine my actions?  The word “unless” flows daily in my thought process and my conversation as I challenge the boundaries, obstacles and barriers before me. Unless I decide to make a difference, who will? In the words of Kenston Griffin if “Better is possible then good is no longer an option.”

2

Teachers are the catalyst that makes a difference.

A catalyst causes or accelerates change in a situation or circumstance. For your students, you must be the catalyst that makes a difference. Each child comes to school with various strengths, interests, and needs and has a unique story to be studied and understood. You will not be able to control their family dynamics or background, but you can create change in the hours they are with you. The focus of your classroom must be to nurture life-long learners who will grow up to become socially responsible citizens. Do not allow things outside your circle of influence to prohibit you from being the catalyst that makes a difference.

Growing up, my mother, a high school dropout, often told me that education provides choices and options; and without an education your options become limited. If we want our students to have options we must prepare them for the 21st century. With any skill left untaught or overlooked our students lose options, and every student deserves to have the world laid out before them. The level of education our students receive determines the direction of our country. Our students of today are the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.

3

Teachers give sight to the blind.

Each morning I enter my school building with the determination to achieve the impossible! I seek opportunities to motivate, engage and provoke critical thinking for students, colleagues, and myself. Each setback in my career has been a setup for a comeback. I inspire others by encouraging them to be “Believers”. My experience as an educator has given me much joy and many lasting memories. One of my favorite memories includes when I ran a 5K with my school’s running club as a guide for a student who is legally blind. The student summed up what it means to be a teacher just before the race began. She grabbed my arm and candidly stated, “Mrs. Hooker, I don’t know where I am going but I trust that you will take me to the right place.” One of my reasons for choosing a career in teaching was to be of service to others. My students and colleagues have amply rewarded me, and I have never regretted the decision. As Helen Keller proclaimed, “When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.

4

Teachers change lives.

I made a very conscious decision to enter the wonderful, ever-changing field of education after nine years of employment in the criminal justice system and the Department of Social Services. Often during interviews and transition meetings, education always seemed to be an area of concern as I investigated my client’s situation. Being a therapeutic foster parent for several young people helped me to understand the lack of success some children experience in the classroom. During a heart to heart conversation with one particular young man he shared with me that, other than being incarcerated, the only other place he feared was a classroom. He stated that the only teachers he remembered were the good teachers and the really ineffective ones. At that moment, my heart called me to become an educator and I vowed to be an outstanding teacher that students would remember. I know that there is power in our words and even more in our actions. I believe children have the right to learn to read, or someone will read them their rights. I have learned that teachers save lives.

5

Educating everybody takes everybody.

It is critical that all of us teachers continue to evolve with the rapidly changing times. I realize my responsibility to continue to grow, learn, and adapt. Equally important, all stakeholders must be willing to teach our students by modeling these same behaviors. The new advancements of today will be out-dated within a few years. Let’s prepare for the future by teaching our students to be flexible and continue to seek knowledge in our changing society. In order to make this happen, let’s support each other and participate in professional learning communities.

We must accept that we set the tone for our students and their educational journey. I passionately believe that every student can achieve. Join me in this belief and effort. Let’s roll-up our sleeves and persevere together to focus on the task at hand instead of making excuses or waiting for Superman to save public education. We may not be traditional super-heroes with capes or titles on our chests, but our willingness to teach the skills necessary for the 21st century make us every student’s hero. If no child is to be left behind, public education must keep up!

The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.

Biography

Mrs. Tyronna Hooker is the 2012 North Carolina Teacher of the Year. She has spent the last nine years teaching social studies and exceptional children at Graham Middle School in Graham, North Carolina. Upon completing high school in Elizabethtown, NC she went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from North Carolina Central University. After earning her teacher certification, she furthered her education by graduating with a Master’s degree in Education with a specialization in Special Education from Elon University.

Mrs. Hooker’s original career goals did not involve teaching. She made a very conscious decision to enter the wonderful, ever-changing field of education after years of employment in the criminal justice system and employment with the Department of Social Services. Her perspective on education is different from other educators because in her experience most teachers excelled in education as children, but as a student, she struggled in the classroom.

She has transitioned into a leader at her school and serves on a number of committees including the Positive Behavior Intervention Support and Response to Intervention teams. Her commitment to literacy is evidenced by her training in Literacy First, Wilson Reading, and Corrective Reading. She remains active in the profession through membership in the National Education Association, North Carolina Association of Educators, and Alamance-Burlington Association of Educators.

Each morning she enters her school building with the determination to achieve the impossible! She seeks opportunities to motivate, engage and provoke critical thinking for students, colleagues, and herself. Each setback in her career has been a setup for a comeback. She inspires others by encouraging them to be “Believers”. Her experience as an educator has given her much joy and many lasting memories. One of her favorite memories includes when she ran a 5K with her school’s running club as a guide for a student who is legally blind. The student summed up what it means to be a teacher just before the race began. She grabbed Mrs. Hooker’s arm and candidly stated, “Mrs. Hooker, I don’t know where I am going but I trust that you will take me to the right place.”