Pam Chesnutt, fifth-grade science teacher at Hodges Elementary, and Jessica Brown, eighth-grade ELAR/social studies teacher at Evans Middle School, have been selected as the Lubbock ISD Teachers of the Year for 2014. Both Chesnutt and Brown were named at a banquet tonight honoring the eight quadrant finalists.
Reflecting on her decision to become a teacher, Chesnutt said it was, at least in the beginning, “a sign of the times…there were basically two options for women, teaching or nursing. I recognized that I would never be good with bedpans and knew I was great with children.” She went on to say that her decision was affirmed when, as a student teacher, her supervising teacher had to leave her alone for a week due to a family emergency. She said, “At that point, I was hooked and I knew I had a gift.” Brown, on the other hand, recalled always wanting to be a teacher. “I can remember ‘playing school’ with my dolls and cousins at a very young age,” she said. Moreover, in her playing school days she said she “always taught some form of ELAR,” which turned out to be her area of professional certification and specialization.
Chesnutt began the description of her teaching philosophy by saying, “Children are weird little creatures and a teacher had better make the connection and get weird with them.” She continued by emphasizing that teaching requires having fun, perseverance, unconditional love for students and knowing her students personally. That philosophy is echoed in principal Ruby Jackson’s words of praise, “Mrs. Chesnutt motivates students to push the boundaries not only of science, but in all areas of their academic and social lives. She is a dynamic and personable educator. She exemplifies the best in our profession.”
When talking about her teaching philosophy, Jessica Brown used the word “passion” frequently. “My passion for teaching drives me to help students have ‘ah ha’ moments every day,” she said. “My passion for teaching makes me an on-going student as well.” Her principal, Flo Touchstone, would seem to agree. “One word comes to mind when I think of Jessica Brown, ‘passionate,’” Touchstone stated. “Mrs. Brown is passionate about her students and whatever it takes to help them be successful and develop a love for reading. The expectations she sets for herself are extremely high as are the expectations she sets for her students. She provides them with the tools and the inspiration to achieve high goals as evidenced by the data. Every student group exceeded last year’s growth.”