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Teacher Feature: Rachel Blackman

By Barbara P. Jacoby

Avery ES third-grade teacher Rachel Blackman has had a heart for helping children since she was a child herself.

“Teaching was always my first career choice,” said the 21-year educator. “Even as a child, I was a teacher with my students being all my dolls and stuffed animals. I have always loved being around and working with children. I also knew I wanted to make a difference in the world, and what better way to do that than through educating our future? I feel teaching is my mission or calling rather than my job. I enjoy seeing the impact I have made, and I love learning along with my students.”

Beyond her classroom, Blackman positively impacts students as assistant coordinator for her school’s After School Program and as a member of the Service League of Cherokee County, a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting Cherokee County’s children in need.

Blackman has had great success by making morning and afternoon meetings part of the daily routine for her students.

“During morning meetings, students share their goal for the day: academic or personal,” she said. “They also have the opportunity to share whatever is on their mind or important to them that day. Our afternoon meetings are just as important, as students reflect on their day. They can share whether they achieved their goal for the day, what helped them be successful, or what they need to work on. We also share a high and a low for our day. These meetings have helped create a family environment within our classroom. They have helped build a positive classroom community of kind, respectful, and caring learners. We know each other well, and we are comfortable speaking and sharing what’s on our minds and hearts. Our communication skills are strengthened, as we learn to explain our thinking, and as we exchange and listen to different perspectives and ideas respectfully.”

Her care for students’ academic success and overall well-being and her support and mentoring of fellow teachers led Blackman’s colleagues to name her their 2023 Teacher of the Year.

“Providing a positive and welcoming environment is key to getting students excited about learning,” she said. “When students feel valued, supported, and respected, only then will they be open to learning and stepping out of their comfort zones. Connecting with students and building a relationship with each one motivates them to be excited about coming to school and learning.”

What can parents do to help their child be as successful as possible at school?
“Parents can prepare their children for learning by making school a top priority, showing a positive attitude toward learning, and supporting their child’s teacher. Parents should encourage their child to try new things and complete tasks, even though they may be frustrating, and give them responsibilities. Parents should also allow their child to fail, so they can develop the life skills needed to be able to pick themselves up and try again. Finally, limit screen time and video games!”