Rachel Fulks Site Teacher of the Year for Claremont Elementary
Rachel Fulks was selected as the Site Teacher of the Year for Claremont Elementary.
Mrs. Fulks tells us that teaching found her. She was inspired by her mom, a teacher, and her dad, a pastor, who modeled teaching and caring for and about people. Teaching, learning, and caring also led her to missionary work in Colombia. When she returned to the states, she accepted a position at Claremont Elementary as a paraprofessional and Spanish translator. Motivated by her administrator, Fulks pursued her state certification and fell in love with teaching in large part due to the mentorship of her outstanding co-workers.
Fulks is a student herself and realizes this is her biggest strength, “My weaknesses as a new teacher have become my strengths. Starting as a paraprofessional gave me a teachable attitude. I relied on the wisdom and advice of mentors. I thrived in a school climate that felt like a family. I was encouraged to observe other teachers, ask questions, and discuss students' needs with a team of people. These very qualities happen to be foundational for our Professional Learning Community. Our best resources are our people.”
Excellent teachers, who love their subject, are infectious. She wrote in her essay, “The environment that fosters that love of learning is a unique blend of a teacher's attitude and expertise, the students' readiness and willingness to learn, and a classroom conducive to attention and participation.”
Her teaching is grounded in her multicultural experiences, and she knows every classroom benefits from approaching a lesson through a cultural lens: “Even students from a similar geographical location have great diversity in their background knowledge, experiences, expectations, and social cues.” Acknowledging the background of individuals fosters trust and healthy relationships for learning.
Her lessons make connections and tie to life outside the classroom while honoring existing diversity to engage students. She shared that her greatest accomplishments in this job includes connecting knowledge of other cultures and languages to our multicultural students to give them the richest education possible.”
Fulks believes, “At the elementary level when so much brain development is taking place, manipulatives, paper books, and paper and pencil writing are invaluable. Reading, writing, kinesthetic learning, and face-to-face social interactions should dominate the school day.” She uses all those strategies and tools to introduce, practice, and reinforce her lessons.
Just as we have culturally diverse students, teachers benefit from diverse perspectives in our teaching community to increase understanding and maximize our educational impact. She does this through accountability, collaboration, and best practices - it’s a team approach. Fulks’ position allows her to constantly learn from visiting all of the classrooms in the building. These experiences also empower her to see areas of improvement and learn new strategies. She is one voice in a collective that makes Claremont a special place for students to thrive.
Video credits: Claremore Digital Video Editing Class / ZTV
Teacher: Ms. Leah Johnson
Graphics credits: Aubrey Henson, CHS Graphic Design student
Teacher: Mrs. Cass Huddleston