2019 MISD Teachers Of The Year

Lisa Christopher, Skylyn Potts Named MISD District Teachers Of The Year
Posted on 05/15/2019
This is the image for the news article titled Lisa Christopher, Skylyn Potts Named MISD District Teachers Of The YearLisa Christopher, first-grade teacher at Price T. Young Elementary School, and Skylyn Potts, Biology teacher at Marshall High School, have been selected as the 2019 Marshall ISD District Teachers of the Year.

The two educators will be officially presented to the MISD Board of Trustees during the regular school board meeting on May 20.

Christopher is the 2019 MISD Elementary School Teacher of the Year, while Potts is the 2019 MISD Secondary School Teacher of the Year. Both will serve as MISD’s nominees for Region 7 Teacher of the Year later this summer.

Both Christopher and Potts were named as their respective Campus Teachers of the Year in April. A committee of MISD administrators then selected their applications and merits with a rubric scoring system to rank the candidates who applied for District Teacher of the Year to represent MISD in the Region 7 Teacher of the Year process.

Lisa Christopher – 2019 MISD Elementary School Teacher of the Year

Christopher, a graduate of Marshall High School, earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Wiley College and then earned a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning from Liberty University. In her District Teacher of the Year application, Christopher says that she has a “passion and love for children and an understanding of how they need to be nurtured…(she) desires to motivate and inspire them, have a positive impact on their sense of self-worth, their learning and their lives.”

She believes reading is the key to academic success for every student.

“We have implemented a reading system in our first-grade classrooms that is designed to aid in the learning of all 220 Dolch sight words and phrases, as well as the fry phrases; help increase vocabulary, comprehension and reading fluency through the use of lists and timed power points. We began to see a positive difference in our students’ reading and motivation right away…the children have set goals for themselves that far surpassed even the teachers’ goals for them and they have achieved fantastic things,” Christopher wrote in her application.

Christopher also writes that her opinion of how to connect with students and impact their lives rests with one word: liberation.

“The word ‘liberation’ means, ‘without boundaries and limits,’” she says. “I want every kid that comes through my classroom door to leave with a liberated mind. My goal is to teach every student that there is no limit to what they can do in life.”

Christopher, who joined MISD as a paraprofessional in 2008 before becoming a full-time teacher in the district in 2012 at the former Robert E. Lee Elementary, is an invaluable part of the district faculty because of her experience working in a high-poverty district.

“Teaching is one of the most important jobs in the world. I am honored and privileged to be a teacher,” she writes. “I have the opportunity every day to mold and shape young minds. It is my hope that as teachers we will form schools that are learning communities in which we all work together to support and educate children.

“It is important to be role models of the highest quality possible. We must form quality relationships with kids and sincerely care about them before we can even attempt to get them to listen and learn from us.

“I believe more time needs to be spent in training teachers how to reach students in poverty, in addition to providing better mentorship once the teacher is actually hired. It is not an easy job to teach students who come to school in survival mode, fighting to live rather than fighting to learn. Each day is a battle when teaching children who are unsure of who will take them home, where they will rest their heads, and even what, or if, they are going to eat that night.

“Our educational system must continue to improve each and every year. We must put the good of children first, no matter what the cost. We need the support of administrators, parents, community members and legislators. It takes a community of people working together to support and educate children…through education, we can build better citizens and brighter tomorrows.”

This is Christopher’s second honor as an MISD District Teacher of the Year, as she also was named District Elementary School Teacher of the Year in 2015 while teaching at Robert E. Lee Elementary.

Skylyn Potts – 2019 MISD Secondary School Teacher of the Year

Potts joined the Maverick Family at Marshall High School in 2017 and completes just his second year as a teacher in 2019. He is a 2015 graduate of East Texas Baptist University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.

Potts’ vision of teaching, according to his application essay, is “that students feel empowered by taking proprietorship of their learning through engaging hands-on activities using labs, simulations, and learning stations.”

Potts also believes teachers should engage students by making every concept, every lesson impactful and challenging in the classroom.

“In order to cater to multiple learning styles, abilities and student backgrounds, impactful lessons require the students and teacher to take risks,” he writes in his application. “The teacher must release some control as the solitary leader and allow students to feel empowered by taking ownership of their own learning, whether by giving students specific tasks and fostering a safe, engaging and student-centered atmosphere.”

Potts also feels that developing and nurturing a sense of community is important when working with students.

“I connect the students to their community by instilling a sense of pride in both their school and their community,” he writes. “I often hear students complain about their dislike in our school or their overall community. One way that I combat this is by showing the students my support, whether this is making my presence known at a sports event or going on school-sponsored trips as a chaperone…I want students to know that I take pride in my students, school and community. My hope is that when they see a young teacher taking pride in where I work, live and continue to learn, they will be positively impacted and have a change in their attitude about their hometown.”

In reference to what he thinks is a major issue in public education today, Potts noted that out of all the ones facing educators and students, he believes that student engagement in the classroom is the biggest hurdle.

“Today’s students are constantly being stimulated,” he said. “We must compete against their cell phone, family lives, jobs, and their priorities. Teachers are in constant competition for their students’ attention. Personally, I attempt to make students realize the value of themselves as a person and as a student. I do this by ensuring each of them are a vital component of the classroom, and that my classroom cannot function without one hundred percent of students participating. Students realize their value when they receive roles within their groups, receive opportunities to take risks, and receive lessons that are hands-on.

“Though we will always be in a competition with all the outside influences of our students, we can work to solve this when we make our classroom a fun, safe and engaging place to be. When we create a classroom culture where the students are at the center and we guide their learning and thinking – coupled with good classroom management – we are one step closer to confronting the issue of student engagement.”

Potts says that all teachers play a tremendous role in the process of education.

“I would like to remind teachers that they are more powerful than they realize,” he said. “Teachers may feel like the mandates affecting public education, curriculum demands, and standardized testing have stripped them of their control; however, let me remind all teachers of this truth: you have the power to influence. You have the power to empower others. You are a superhero. You have the power to change the life of a child, and that is the best power of all.”

In addition to his role as a teacher at MHS, Potts also serves as Youth Pastor at Church of Uncertain in Karnack.

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