Editor's Note: The following is the nomination of Almond Elementary School teacher Amelia "Amy"Shelley, who won a Symetra "Heroes in the Classroom" award Nov. 29.
Why should your nominee be named a Symetra Hero in the Classroom? What sets him/herapart at your school?
Amelia Shelley, in her young, brilliant career as an educator, has already achieved the kinds of milestones in her 8 years of teaching that veterans would dream for!
She has been the beloved leader blazing the path for her colleagues to introduce and incorporate technology into teaching in ways that embrace the best of 21st century learning, vs. textbook delivery via a laptop. Her success integrating design thinking in the classroom and her ability to share best practices with school peers, has enabled her to become the District’s leader to the teaching staff across our 5,000 student Los Altos district!
And while I can and will give examples of her technology leadership, Ms. Shelley has combined her digital pursuits with a care and compassion for the whole student as a member of the school community and as citizens of the global world. Her work has been recognized by the prestigious YMCA Project Cornerstone group which strives to support the 41 quintessential assets a person needs for lifelong happiness as a citizen and person. Project Cornerstone is a respected character building program that helps students empower themselves to stand up for their beliefs and morals, and eradicate the bullying that so torments our youth of today.
Additionally, Amelia Shelley believes in community service, believing that we can all learn about ourselves when we give back to our community that supports us. Annually, the students volunteer over 810 hours, helping the environment, via coastal clean-up projects, recycling, creating composts, writing letters to the government, etc. She participates with the childrenand gives them a sense of value and self-worth.
1. Chosen for the Los Altos District Tech Committee as well as the Almond School Tech Committee tobring accessible technology to all students in the classroom
2. Summer 2012 trained 24 Los Altos District teachers at “iLearn” in which these teachers learned andused technology that will empower their students to use and integrate technology in their lessons.
3. Conducted teacher training on integrating design thinking in classroom.
4. Integrates Project-Based learning to keep students engaged as well as blending it with technology.
5. Owner and operator of FUN WITH MEDIA – an after-school technology and design class for students.
6. Piloting a Kinder -3rd grade IPad in the classroom program. To generate interest, support and financial backing, Amelia created a video presentation of students in the classroom, for the parents, showing the importance and value of iPads for instruction. Presentation met with overwhelming response and outpouring of donations, allowing for 50 iPads to be purchased in the first year!
How has the nominee made a difference in his/her students’ lives (give examples)?
Amelia Shelley embodies all that she espouses – she is what she inspires others to be –intelligent, a self-directed learner, compassionate, humble, and a global citizen. Students and adults alike, believe in what she is and what she says, and are motivated to take her challenges to self-improve. Recently a mom told me of her praise for Ms. Shelley as she was instrumental in teaching her daughter and her friends how to not be the “Mean Girls.” Instead of calling out rude behaviors, she compassionately went up to the girls and said, “Huddle huddle, trouble, trouble!” Then she went on to talk with the girls and say, “When others walk by you and you are giggling, they think you are giggling about them. When you gather and start whispering, others around you think you are whispering about them, versus you sharing a private story. But when you call in others to your conversation, you are including, not excluding.” This parent believes that Ms. Shelley was the reason her daughter changed her behavior and became aware of her actions and the actions of her friends, and began the behavior changes necessary. Speaking with the mothers of the others girls outside this circle, the behavior change was noticed and appreciated, and all supported the work and affects of the Project Cornerstone program that Ms. Shelley was teaching.
On the Technology mentoring side, Ms. Shelley is able to reach a vast array of students, as other teachers take the best of her teachings. Another Almond School teacher recently told me about her summer training experience with Amelia Shelley. She said that she was honored to be selected to work with Ms. Shelley and due to her respect of and admiration for Ms. Shelley’s accomplishments, hoped to do her very best in a fast-paced study clinic. This statement camefrom a single mom teacher who made extensive arrangements to give up her summer time with her son, to be able to participate in the technology training, called “iLearn” with Ms. Shelley. This teacher said everything she learned with Ms. Shelley would be directly applicable to her…KINDERGARTEN class this year – yes TECHNOLOGY incorporated into the new CA standards of teaching for Kindergarten which requires paragraph writing by the end of the year!!! This demonstrates the far reach of Ms. Shelley’s teaching dedication as it envelopes all teaching corners of our school!
Lastly, my son is one of Ms, Shelley’s Science Students and his recent participation in the Coastal Clean-up has been a highlight of his 6th grade year. He was most impressed when Ms.Shelley arrived at 10:00 on a beautiful Saturday to be with her 6th grade students and pick up the materials that otherwise float to our waters and contaminate our sources. She had just taught our students the environmental effects of human pollution and was a citizen in action along with her students, making a difference in all of our lives, collecting plastic bags, and cigarette butts, one at a time.
What really motivates me about Ms. Shelley, above and beyond what I have already written, is that she comes from a family of educators. Her parents and all her siblings teach and I find that so admirable in a day and community where our brightest have many options available to them, ones that reward more handsomely financially, and perhaps in other ways, too. Here in CA, where all we hear about is education funding being cut, and teachers' unions at war with administration, along comes a talent like Ms. Shelley who is everything you ever hoped for in a teacher—bright, engaged, eager to learn and grow; an inspiration to students, staff and parents. I know great things will happen for her and because of her, and we may lose her to the greater world of education as she teaches others how to teach, but for the few moments we do have the privilege of her teaching, I wish to share and highlight her meritswith others, so she can feel appreciated and respected for the teaching choice she made.
Symetra partners with the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers to recognize outstanding teachers in the communities where its offices are located.