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Faith Hamilton - First Grade
2014-2015 Teacher of the Year

• Union High School graduate 2002
• Bachelor of Science in Education, Northeastern State University 2006
• Early Childhood Education Certification (Birth-3rd)
• Masters of Education in Reading, Northeastern State University 2012
• Reading Specialist Certification (Pre-K-12)

Many became teachers because they love children or teaching. Andersen first grade teacher Faith Hamilton is no exception.

“The kids need me,” Hamilton said. “As a young girl I dreamt of becoming a teacher.  Unaware of what all being a responsible for a roomful of kids entailed, my career path was self-determined based on the influence of elementary teachers I had the privilege of being taught by.  The ‘honeymoon phase’ wore off a couple years into my teaching experience, and it would be untruthful for me to claim to have never considered a change in professions.  The job of a teacher is indescribable in terms of expectations and levels of stress.  But bearing in mind the missed opportunity to connect with students and their families, teaching remains a dream job for me.  From the visits with former students to celebrate achievements to the daily accomplishments of first grade goals, there is not another role in which I could directly impact kids’ success. “

Hamilton said, “As a teacher, I fully embrace the opportunity to develop relationships with students and their families which last beyond the nine months of a school year.  I am a cheerleader and supporter of each child.  I become a trusted confidant and cherish the memories made year after year.”

One of the most important issues facing schools today is diversity, she said. Hamilton believes that diversity in student learning has been and will always be an issue for teachers.

“The wide array of background experiences and broadness in range of student abilities is a constant topic,” she said.  “Teaching is much more than delivery of instruction and academic accountability.  Within the walls of any given classroom there are 20 or more distinctively different learning styles and teachers are tasked with getting each and every one to the same goal without exception.  The joy of teaching comes from the privilege to make a quality education accessible to all students and individually tailor learning experiences to maximize success.  Oftentimes the focus is on teaching, but it's learning that matters most.”

Making personal connections also matters. Each child makes an impact on her.
“Over the past nine years, I would describe the worst thing to happen to me as a teacher being the instances when a child must leave my classroom prior to end of the year.  I consider each class a community and individual students as integral members of the group,” Hamilton said.

“The differences among us and the strengths we can each contribute are valuable.  It is hard enough to say year-end goodbyes, but even more difficult to lose a classmate during the year and selfishly wanting more time with them.  It is this for this reason I strive to capture every teachable moment and use the time I have with students to the fullest.”

Hamilton’s time at Union began long before she started teaching.  She became a Redskin as a student in seventh grade when her family relocated from Arkansas to Tulsa.  Having spent the remaining five years of high school at Union, the Redskin Spirit would be forever engrained in her and never forgotten.

“When considering a district to launch my career it didn’t take long for my decision to be made in pursuit of my alma mater,” she said. “After receiving my degree and certification I came back and started my career as a kindergarten teacher at Andersen Elementary in 2006.  I moved up with my first class and began teaching first grade in 2007.  That has been my home away from home ever since.  Union Public Schools has an incomparable standard of quality that I first recognized as a student and am blessed to help maintain as a teacher.  The ‘Union Way’ is the only way I’ve ever known.  Despite future uncertainty, one thing remains: All my life I’m going to be a Redskin!”

Hamilton’s experience as a classroom teacher coupled with strong leadership qualities will undoubtedly lead to continued professional growth. 

“Staying in the classroom for five more years or longer would be satisfying, but I am also open to exploring other positions.  I know for sure my life-calling is to work with kids in education, so if I did find myself leaving the classroom it would only be for the sake of increasing the effect I could have in the lives of students.  My outlook on the near future is optimistic, as I feel I am in a personal teaching prime.  I am highly motivated to establish new partnerships and develop innovative ways to teach kids.  Learner success is the source of my fulfillment, so what may come will be driven by how I can assist with the attainment of student goals.”