Top schools generally boast top teachers and Warren T. Jackson Elementary School in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood is no exception.
In fact, Jackson Elementary, a National Blue Ribbon School and a Georgia School of Excellence, has one of the top elementary educators in the district. The Atlanta Public Schools named third grade teacher Kesha Payne, who is also an American Graduate Champion, the 2015 Elementary School Teacher of the Year.
The honor is no surprise to Payne’s students and colleagues at Jackson and probably the least surprising of all to her family.
Every decision you make, keep students first. I say communicate clearly with parents and administrators. I say collaborate effectively with your colleagues and keep students top of mind
“I am a passionate natural educator,” Payne explained during an interview with PBA’s American Graduate.
“I come from a long line of teachers. I can honestly say that every member of my immediate family is an educator in some capacity. So I grew up with teachers and fell in love with teaching,” she said.
Payne may have a passion for teaching, but she also has an enthusiasm, as well, that is evident in the classroom among her students.
“I think that learning should be fun for kids, particularly for elementary school age students,” Payne said
Her students seemed to agree that Ms. Payne makes learning fun.
“I like how Ms. Payne lets me do extra work because I love to work on things and I usually like to read so she lets me read extra time and she lets me work on things that people aren’t working on that makes me feel kind of special,” said a third grader named Genesis.
Payne’s ability to make her students feel special is part of what makes her such a great teacher, according to Jackson Principal Dr. Lorraine Reich. Reich called Payne an exciting teacher who is both demanding and inspiring.
“She is a very, very popular teacher, both with colleagues and teachers and students. Everyone is excited if they get to be in Kesha Payne’s class because they know they’re in for an exciting school year,” Reich told American Graduate.
Payne’s teaching style and mission may be part of what makes her classes so “exciting.”
“Every decision you make, keep students first. I say communicate clearly with parents and administrators. I say collaborate effectively with your colleagues and keep students top of mind,” Payne explained.
“Principal Reich said Jackson Elementary is lucky to have teachers like Payne
“We have a great school and we have a lot of great teachers. Kesha Payne is probably among the very, very best. She has a natural gift and a natural talent for working with children.”
Payne described her success at Jackson as more of a group effort.
“I think when you walk through the doors of our school you feel our commitment, our collaboration, our communication with families to support student success. And I think that every part of our culture surrounds that.”
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