Teacher, Cascade Elementary School
Teaching at a Title 1 school, Mrs. Jelks observes inequities daily. She believes that the first step in combating these issues within her classroom is by going the extra mile to make sure that her students know that they are loved and their input is valued.
“I teach the whole child, because you never know what the kids need or what their home looks like. So, it’s important that I show them compassion and patience and help them to understand that they are just as important to me as I am to them,” Mrs. Jelks explained.
She knows that lack of access to school supplies could limit opportunities for students so she utilizes community resources to provide these necessities for them, eliminating any barriers to their personal and academic success. She works with organizations like Donors Choose. This year, she was able to get funding for four projects, one that provided a week's worth of snacks for students. Additionally, she calls on her family to pitch in to donate supplies.
Mrs. Jelks also goes above and beyond the call of duty by sponsoring students as well.
“I sponsor the kids and have sponsored the cheerleading team. So, if they need things like shoes, I go buy the shoes for them, even if it’s out of my own pocket. As an educator, I just want my students to have access to basic necessities,” she said.
Mrs. Jelks believes that it is also important to be there for the parents, because positive parent-teacher relationships play a pivotal role in student success.
She stated, “Sometimes you have to be that teacher that stays at school longer, because that students’ parents may be working late. I try to be there for the parents too and help out as much as I can.”
When asked about her why, Mrs. Jelks offered, “As a Kindergarten teacher, my role is to set the foundation for school for them. So, if they don’t like coming to Kindergarten, they will not like going to first grade and so on. I want them to feel accepted in this space, to have the things that they need to achieve great things and to be excited about coming to class each and every day.”