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Teacher Feature: Alisha Talley

By Barbara P. Jacoby

Arnold Mill ES teacher Alisha Talley is known for the fun she embeds into her lessons, along with learning standards.

The fourth-grade English language arts and social studies teacher is in her 16th year as an educator – a career she decided to pursue because of her love for children.

“I have always loved watching children grow, explore, and learn new things,” said Talley, whose colleagues chose her as the school’s 2022 Teacher of the Year. “Being a part of their journey is such a privilege.”

She keeps education engaging and entertaining for her students. For example, every year she creates the Holiday Starbooks Cafe, a lesson that transforms her classroom into a study of fairy tales and holiday stories from around the world. Her students also experience learning under black lights on Glow Day. And when it’s time to prepare for Georgia Milestones testing, they play the Bean Boozled candy game.

“When students know that we are going to have a fun themed activity or game coming up, they work even harder to master the skills being taught,” she said. “Creating excitement in English language arts is an important part in fostering a love of reading in students.”

Talley doesn’t hold back her joy during class, as she sees how it sets the tone for her students, especially those who struggle with confidence about their reading skills.

“Showing that I am excited about what I am teaching and more importantly, whom I am teaching, gets my students excited about their own learning. Building a relationship with students and showing them how much I care about them is the first step in gaining their respect and engagement,” she said. “It’s also important to find new ways to teach content. I know that English language arts can be a struggle for some students, especially those who are not confident in their reading ability. By incorporating games, movement, free choice, project-based learning, escape rooms, etc., students are learning the skills and content that they need while having fun.”

Her dedication to supporting students doesn’t stop at her classroom door, as she also volunteers with the school’s Mustang Mentors program.

“This program helps students to be more successful at school through the daily encouragement and support of a mentor,” Talley said. “I provide positive feedback, encouragement, and rewards while focusing on helping students practice the specific ‘Tell the Ten’ school expectations with which they are struggling.”

What can parents do to help their child be as successful as possible at school?

“Parents can help their child be successful at school by modeling a positive attitude about school and showing a real interest in what is going on,” Talley said. “Taking time to read together, talk about school, ask questions, or simply be available to listen shows that they are invested in what is going on in their child’s life. A child’s success at school is amplified when parents and teachers are working as a team in the best interest of the child.”