“When you step into her classroom, you step into a very unique place…a classroom that is encouraging and vibrant; but, most importantly, you step into a classroom full of energized students working hard to complete two grades in one year,” says Oxford Learning Center Principal Kathy Howington when describing Danielle Little, the Oxford School District 2016 First Year Teacher of the Year.
Little is a first year school teacher at the Oxford Learning Center, the district’s school for alternative education. To be named the Oxford School District First Teacher of the Year, a teacher must be in their first year of teaching within an Oxford school.
According to Howington, the key to the success for many students in the district’s alternative school hinges primarily on the success of the instructor.
Little is the first-ever teacher for the Oxford Learning Center’s pilot program, the Step-Up Program. Through this program, a team of educators look closely at student records to find sixth-grade students who have failed two years somewhere in their educational career with various reasons as to why the students have lost hope on some level.
“Some students have been transient, others were dealing with severe health issues, while some had extreme absenteeism,” said Howington. “I knew that a teacher for this class had to have the ability to motivate students. Little is the queen of motivation.”
High expectations have been set in Little’s classroom, and students rise to the occasion. In turn, Little goes above and beyond to support her students outside of the classroom.
“It’s not unusual to see her (Little) attending her students’ basketball games to offer encouragement,” said Howington. “She frequently goes back to the middle school to check on her students who have moved on. Also, she has formed a close collaboration with other teachers, specifically at the Scott Center, where they are creating lessons plans and bouncing ideas off of one another. She jumps at the chance of professional development.”
Howington adds that Little is a “pure teacher: one who walks the walk and talks the talk. She has started out her career setting the standard high for herself, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for her. She makes a positive difference every single day.”
Visit www.oxfordsd.org/OLC for more information on the Oxford School District.
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