Grove Elementary - Clare Williams, 5th Grade
Fifth grade teacher Clare Williams has been named the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Grove Elementary School.
“There are several reasons and experiences that led me to becoming a teacher,” Williams said. “My grandmother and great grandmother were both secondary teachers. I always loved hearing stories from my grandmother about her experiences in teaching and it sounded like a fun and rewarding career. She was proud of her work and I wanted to feel like I was helping others too. Additionally, while growing up, my imaginative play was always to play school. From a young age, school was important to me and I was always observing what my teachers were doing. Today, I use experiences I had in school to shape my own teaching and to help make memorable experiences for my students. My teachers in elementary school created a positive learning environment with experiences that I can still remember clearly today. I want my students to have those same memories of school in 20 years.”
“I really enjoy seeing the progress that students can make with support. Every time I have a student struggling with a skill and we are able to push through it together to where they are independently successful, I am reminded how much I love doing this career. It is my goal to reach even the toughest students and give them a fresh start each school year. As a teacher, I want to be a role model for helping my students see they can change as students and grow to love the process of learning.”
Teaching is so different this year, she said.
“I am currently placed as a virtual teacher for fifth grade at Grove,” Williams said. “It has been a challenging experience, but I am so glad to be faced with the challenge and get to lead the way on what a virtual experience could look like for elementary students. I have looped with my current students for three years now and this experience is so different from what the past two years have been. In the physical classroom, I can see how engaged my students are, can monitor their understanding in the moment, and can help them stay on task with their assignments. In the virtual setting, these moments in the classroom aren’t necessarily lost, but they are more difficult to accomplish.
“As a teacher, I am challenged with finding new ways to engage my students and foster relationships. A couple of things we are doing differently to accomplish this are to have student zoom lunches once a week to talk about their interests, weekly classroom blog activities for students to engage with each other on Seesaw, and virtual field trips to museums and zoos around the country. With its challenges, this has been a fun and interesting experience. I feel like I am continuing to grow myself as an educator and learn different ways to reach students.”
Williams started as a substitute teacher in the spring semester of 2013.
“I had graduated from the University of Oklahoma in December and wanted to substitute teach to gain more experience before taking on my own classroom. I substituted around the district for a few weeks before becoming a long term substitute for the remainder of the semester at Grove Elementary. I was hired as a third grade teacher at Grove for the following school year and have been here since, working as a teacher in third, fourth, and fifth grades.”