Two of the VCU School of Education reading program alumnae, Kellie Seals and Sarah Combs, were named Teacher of the Year in their Henrico County schools, Elko Middle School and John Rolfe Middle School.
“I was surprised and honored to represent my school as teacher of the year. This award only reminds me that I must continue to grow and learn in order to be a better educator,” said Kellie Seals.
Seals currently teaches 7th grade English and 6th grade drama at Elko Middle School. “I enjoy working with students in the middle grades, they sometimes act like kids and other times like grown-ups, which is why I enjoy the daily adventures with middle school students,” said Seals.
Sarah Combs is also a 7th grade English teacher, at John Rolfe Middle School. She decided to pursue teaching so she could make an impact on her students’ futures.
“The funny thing is, as I try to make an impact on my students, they end up making an even bigger impact on my life in so many ways,” says Combs.
"The funny thing is, as I try to make an impact on my students, they end up making an even bigger impact on my life in so many ways.”
The VCU School of Education's reading specialist program helped prepare Combs and Seal to teach English. The program teaches students the important components of what a strong, balanced reading program should consist of.
“I believe the most important thing that I gained from the School of Education reading program is how to help the struggling readers that I teach every day,” said Seals.
This year, both teachers have tackled the independent reading that students are required to do — with great outcomes.
Seals launched a new reading program that partners with the technology resource center in her school to make reading more enjoyable for students. She worked to make picking out a book a more interactive experience.
“To help students choose books, I allowed students to create book review videos on a voluntary basis for the books they read. Then, I posted the videos on our classroom course page so that students could view them at any time when searching for different books to read. The students seemed to love the videos because they came directly from the student’s point of view about the book,” said Seals.
Combs also tackled the independent reading among her students by allowing them to make their own movie trailers for the book that were later showcased at the John Rolfe Literacy Night.
“My students created book trailers using WeVideo or Adobe Spark. The book trailers included an introduction to the book, student’s connections to the book, and a recommendation using sounds and images to persuade the audience to read the book,” said Combs.
Combs expressed how grateful she is for her students who have shared their journeys with her, for the parents who have supported her efforts and for the teachers who inspire her to go above and beyond in her classroom.