TAMPA BAY, Fla .– Many parents are preparing to send their children back to school at the end of the summer.
It can be a nostalgic moment, allowing them to reflect on their own school days. We have all had teachers who have impacted our lives by going above and beyond.
We spotlight two Tampa Bay educators who are no exception in making a difference in the lives of their students.
One of those people is Ron Smiley, vice-principal of Collins Elementary School in Riverview. He has been in teaching for 22 years.
Earlier this year, he showed how far (literally) he was willing to go to help his students succeed. One of the students at her school, Audrey Cross, a future fourth grader, suffers from aniridia, an eye disease that makes her difficult to see. On tests and other reading materials, she needs large print to be able to see properly.
“We know she uses tools to help her with the magnification,” Smiley said.
When the FSA testing took place, Smiley was keeping an eye on Cross’s special test, but as testing day approached, it still hadn’t arrived.
“Normally the large print test comes in a large box and I was a large short box. So I had to call the district assessment office and they had to order it quickly. They said it would be here on a Monday and we were doing the test on a Tuesday, ”Smiley said.
However, the test never came. School was missing a truck on Monday, so Smiley took matters into his own hands.
“The day before I stayed to finish, making sure all the final boxes, all the tests were ready. Then I quickly went to the warehouse so I could pick it up,” Smiley said.
The ride was about 45 minutes one way, but Smiley didn’t care. He just wanted Cross to have the opportunity that all the other students have.
He successfully brought the test to school, being careful not to alert Cross to what he had done. He didn’t want to stress her before his exam – and it was worth it in the end.
“I got the best mark you can get. I had a 5, ”Cross said.
Smiley and the rest of the administration were happy with his high rating.
“The excitement was there, we were very ecstatic, I don’t even put the right word… we were just extremely delighted,” Smiley said.
Cross found out what Smiley had done for her afterwards.
“I thought it was kinda nice of him to go to Tampa and do that… he’s really nice and he knows what to do during the bad things,” she said.
Another teacher from Tampa Bay has made a point of making her class feel like family. At Harvey Elementary School in Manatee County, Amy Hood, a fifth grade teacher, has been teaching for 28 years.
“I knew since I was a little girl that this was what I wanted to do,” Hood said.
It is clear that teaching is a passion for Hood – even her principal went into ecstasies when asked what was so special about her.
In an email, Headmistress Rio listed the things she likes about Hood’s teaching style, saying: “She’s magical! It sounds a bit silly, but I watch her year after year round up a random group of students in August, and in May she created a family of kids in her class who really care and care. support each other. “
In Hood’s own words, she says part of the reason her class dynamics work so well is that they never stop.
“I know I’m known to be a little crazy because I haven’t slowed down. I always put more. My ideas never stop and there’s really nothing that comes to me like an idea that I’m thinking, ‘No I can’t do that,’ “Hood said.
In an effort to connect with her students, she allows them to enter her home for the Christmas holidays. She also does Baked Hoods, a monthly Zoom classroom baking session; a tradition that began during the pandemic last year.
“I emailed the ingredient list and made sure the parents were there to help me, then we baked… We made pies, banana pudding and banana bread,” Hood said. .
Inside the classroom, she has a system in place to reward her students for taking on challenges. This is his “Wall of Fame”. To mount on the wall, students must complete at least 16 of the 90 learning challenges. When they reach the quota, they put their heads against the wall.
“If you step on the wall of fame, you stay until I stop teaching,” Hood said.
But Hood’s efforts don’t end there. She also makes sure that her students have access to her outside of the classroom. She gives each student their phone number in case they need help with homework or if they just want to share something that has happened to them.
“I don’t want a reason to be, ‘But I didn’t get it.’ And you know, nowadays there’s not always that parental help. Or ‘My grandmother is dead.’ And just being that help has… it means a lot to me, ”Hood said.
This connection with his students is naturally reflected in their test scores.
“I think they don’t want to let me down,” Hood said.
She sure isn’t going to let them down, either. It will be there, every step of the way.