Hats Off to Greenville County’s 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year, Shiree Turner Fowler

I hope you’ve heard about the Greenville County’s 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year, Shiree Turner Fowler. When I read her story in the Greenville News, I thought, now, she gets it.

She teaches kindergarten at Hollis Elementary Academy. She has a classroom with 25 boys, 98 percent under the poverty level, 86 percent minority, and over a third Hispanic. Makes you want to run for the door, doesn’t it?

But, in the article, we see she wanted such a situation, she didn’t settle for the worse. Because she sees that her job is to help young boys overcome challenges, not just punch a clock and cash a check. Hallelujah! That’s it.

When I read the story, I loved what she calls her little 5 year old students. Not brats, hoods, hooligans, etc. I remember some of the names I was called, sometimes deservedly so. She calls them scholars. Probably, for some, the first positive name they’ve been called. I just hope it isn’t the last. Because why should we expect somebody not become what we constantly call them.

Oh. I made a mistake. I know. You’re not surprised. She doesn’t teach kindergarten, she teaches Kinderversity. She lets them know the year they are expected to graduate from college.

She is working with some of the saddest and hardest cases. And it’s not their fault, or their parents. Let’s not try to find blame. You can’t act better if you don’t know better. Or you don’t see a better option.

She says that by the time they get four years of age, they will have heard, on average, 30 million fewer words than their peers. And that’s not considering what types of words. Or those from homes with non-native speakers. But that doesn’t frighten her, it just makes her realize the urgency in what she does.

Shiree Turner Fowler is trying to make a difference in these boys’ and their families’lives. And she will.

She’s entering her 13th year of teaching. I hope she doesn’t get jaded. It is so easy to look at this year as just another year. It may be her 13th, but it will be their first. They’ve never heard that old story. It will be new to them. Please remember to keep that joy for them.

For isn’t school supposed to be about the student? Yes, teacher, you sacrifice and you don’t get the credit due you. But that child may not have ever completed anything; you have because you have your degree(s). They may have never been applauded, you have numerous times. Help them become what they can so we can see God’s work in what they will accomplish.

Shiree Turner Fowler has chosen to make and be a difference. When God is in it, as He will be, there is no higher calling.

For more on the story, see this post.

Shiree Turner Fowler, one of my new heroes.