This week’s feature for Teacher of the Year is Clarissa Childress, a third grade teacher at W.A. Wright Elementary School.
Clarissa Childress has been at W.A. Wright for her entire career. Currently in her fourth year of teaching third grade, she previously taught kindergarten for eight years.
Childress attended Cumberland University where she earned her undergraduate degree in K-6 elementary education and her master’s in education with an educational leadership endorsement.
Growing up, she knew she wanted to be an educator. She said she would often play school and was always the teacher. She even attended W.A. Wright, where she had many teachers that helped her enjoy learning.
She said being offered a chance to work at the school she attended felt like everything was coming full circle. She even got to work alongside some of the teachers she had while she was a student.
Becoming a teacher at the school she grew up in as been a special experience.
“This is home for me. It would be really hard to see myself elsewhere,” she said. “I feel like it’s me giving back to the blessings I received over the years.”
“For me it’s giving back to the community and the home that I know. it’s definitely a special and unique feeling and experience all around. People come and go, but this has a special meaning — this place, this school and the community.”
Childress said W.A. Wright is like her second home.
“It laid the foundation all the way through from an early age all the way up to becoming a teacher and learning how to be the best educator I could be,” she said.
Because she always enjoyed school and learning, she thought she knew what to expect when becoming a teacher herself. She was amazed with the roles that teachers play throughout the day: educator, support system, encourager, cheerleader, mentor, friend and so many more.
Though she teaches all subjects, she has a passion for math. Because math can be difficult for many third grade students, she utilizes different strategies to keep it interesting.
“I just feel like math is a fun time for our class,” she said. “It does make it more enjoyable to teach when they have fun and you see that they’re engaged and they love what they’re learning and they see the growth and they can see ‘I can do this.'”
Childress said she was surprised when her colleagues chose her to represent her school as Teacher of the Year. Because she started teaching right out of college, she learned a lot from her colleagues in her first few years.
“Being recognized as Teacher of the Year is a testament to how much they’ve invested and poured into me,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am. I’m not able to do everything I do without the support around me.”