Skip to main content

Logo: Newport News Public Schools

Model Teachers: 4th Grade

Model TeacherModel TeacherName: April Dawson
Grade: 4th Grade
School: General Stanford Elementary
Years Taught: 16

Why are you passionate about supporting fellow teachers?
I love my job! If I can help other teachers feel comfortable enough in their position that they can say the same thing, then I feel like I will have made my mark for the future of this profession. We work so hard to build a community within our classroom, and I feel like teachers should work hard to build that same type of community amongst themselves. We have to learn how utilize each other, try things that are uncomfortable, possibly make mistakes, learn from them, and move forward with support from each other.

What is the best way to describe your classroom on a typical day?
Engaging! I use my classroom as a vehicle for exploration and independence. I always ask myself this question as I plan my lessons and activities: What will my kids do today that they are so excited about they will talk about at the dinner table? If I cannot think of anything, then I need to make a change.

What two words best describe you as a teacher?
Motivator and Learner! I may not have chosen these two words 10 years ago, but as I have grown as an educator, I feel they describe me perfectly. I strive to MOTIVATE my students to never give up, try difficult tasks, learn from mistakes, question, and treat others the way they want to be treated. I describe myself as a LEARNER because I find myself learning from my students and colleagues all the time. I have found that when my kids see me as a LEARNER, as well as a teacher, they respect me for admitting that I do not have all the answers, but I am willing to do what it takes to find them. They may see me fail yet keep trying, which reinforces the type of learner I want them to be.


Model TeacherModel TeacherName: Terry McGlennon
Grade: 4th Grade
School: Carver Elementary
Years Taught: 37

Why are you passionate about supporting fellow teachers?
Nobody is an expert when starting a career. As a veteran teacher, I have ideas and techniques that have worked well for me and that could make a beginning teacher’s experience a more positive one.  Starting a teaching career can be somewhat overwhelming, and if I can make that road a less bumpy one, I am glad to do so. When you are teaching alone in your class, you can sometimes feel like you are extremely isolated. New teachers need to know there are people in their schools & school system who are willing to support them, listen to them, and model instruction.  It can really make a difference in an extremely challenging year.

What do you most love about teaching?
I love to get kids excited about learning.  Each class has a distinct personality, and I love tapping into what motivates them and running with it, all in the parameters of the curriculum. When a student who has struggled with a skill or some content finally gets it, when that light bulb lights up, there’s no better feeling. It’s powerful knowing I helped that student succeed!

What two words best describe you as a teacher?  Why? 
Engaging and InnovativeEngaging: Each class has their own distinct personality. I take class interests and strive to incorporate these interests into my instruction. The students are so highly motivated about books we read or projects we work on that new extension activities are created. If I can find ways to take kids to new levels in their learning, I am willing to go there.

Innovative/Creative: As I teach, I am constantly analyzing my instruction to see if I can improve the lessons. I often am inspired and modify my teaching to hone in on learning targets in a variety of ways.  For example, I struggled when my students used reading comprehension techniques on paper and pencil assessments but didn’t transfer these skills to computer testing. I incorporated new techniques and practice sessions to specifically address these deficits and had very positive results. Even though I have taught for 30+ years, I am always looking for new innovations, theories, and techniques to use in my class.
Model TeacherModel TeacherName: Shannon Rawls
Grade: 4th Grade
School: Yates Elementary
Years Taught: 7

Why are you passionate about supporting fellow teachers?
I am passionate about supporting my fellow teachers.  Nothing can truly prepare you for the experiences that unfold as you begin your journey as a teacher.  Part of the beauty in teaching is that education is always changing.  The children are different, their needs are different, we learn and grow as educators, and curriculum changes.  Our world can be overwhelming at times.  I have seen amazing educators walk away from the profession because of the pressure and demands that can come with our job.  I want to inspire other teachers and help them to build their confidence.  When we are faced with a difficult concept to teach or a child who is difficult to reach, often times all we need is a sounding board and a colleague with whom we can collaborate.  It’s nice to get ideas from others and have someone to help us think of things from a different angle.  I believe that positivity and optimism are contagious.  I want to pass my passion and love for teaching on to my fellow educators so that they understand their worth and don’t give up during moments of self-doubt.

What do you most love about teaching?
I firmly believe that teaching is the most rewarding profession.  The thing that I love most about teaching is the children.  I thrive on helping the most challenging students and am passionate about making a difference in their lives each and every day.  Nothing compares to the feeling of building students’ self-esteem, helping them to believe in themselves, witnessing them becoming invested in their learning, and watching them as they grow and transform before your very eyes.  I love that I can give students hope for the future while creating critical thinkers, life-long learners, and active members of society!

Why do you love working in NNPS?
I absolutely love working in NNPS.  Our district offers a very diverse population of students and teachers.  It models the real world; after all, America is a melting pot.  Students and teachers alike are given opportunities to embrace diversity while learning to appreciate the differences in the world around them.  The district offers a plethora of professional learning opportunities to help us stay abreast of best practices and the ever-changing trends in education.  They also promote collaboration and provide a platform for teachers to share ideas.  The curriculum team values teacher input and is open-minded when considering new ideas.  They value educators and work hard to support us to ensure that we are all successful.  In NNPS it is evident every day that whether it is our superintendent, curriculum teams, administration, teachers, or support staff, the children come first.  At the end of the day, that’s what matters most!

Logo: NNPS Curriculum Department