Position: Kindergarten Teacher
School: Madison Avenue Lower Elementary School
School District: Madison County School District
City, State: Madison, MS
Miriam Carman was nominated by an acquaintance who wishes to remain anonymous..
Ms. Carman considers herself to be a lifelong learner who is dedicated to growing in ways that will benefit both her students and herself. She seized the opportunity to learn new ways to enrich her students' learning by obtaining her National Board of Professional Teachers Certification in 2009 and her Masters of Arts in Elementary Education in 2012. She is currently working on her Specialist in Leadership with a goal of becoming a principal. After teaching regular education for nine years, she decided to become certified in special education to help her inclusion students close the gap in the regular classroom.
When Ms. Carman started teaching at Madison Avenue Elementary, a model school for the Whole Schools Art Initiative, she knew very little about true arts integration in the classroom. She attended the Whole Schools Summer Institute the summer before she started at MAE and used the information learned to begin to integrate the arts in her classroom.
Ms. Carman believes that art is a wonderful learning tool that can be used with all types of learners. She believes that introducing young children to many types of art will motivate them to practice new concepts and enhance their ability to share their thinking and learning. When district funding wasn’t available to provide an art easel for her students, she wrote a grant for an entire art center, which was later awarded to her. This center became a place to allow her students’ creativity to bloom. After attending several Whole Schools Institutes and implementing arts integration in her own classroom, Ms. Carman decided it was time to share all that she had learned with her peers and presented an art experience at the 2017 Summer Institute. She is scheduled to present at the Winter Arts Institute as well in February of 2018.
"Miriam has worked as part of the leadership team at her school to develop innovative instruction methods that became the standard for the grade level. She is a team player and a leader in seeking out and adopting new, effective techniques for teaching reading and math skills and then share these instructional techniques with her colleagues through team planning, professional development presentations, and mentoring new teachers," her nominator said.
Ms. Carman sees the importance of individualized instruction based on her students’ needs and interests. She employs a broad range of instructional techniques to retain student interest and maximize learning. She has sought out professional development to keep her instructional techniques innovative and relevant. Ms. Carman takes time to learn as much as she can about each of her students, and she lets them get to know her as well. She created a book to introduce herself to her class including pictures of her when she was her students’ age, her family, and favorite things. She works to cultivate a trusting and productive relationship with her students.
Ms. Carman is aware of the importance of the family-school partnership. She works with students and their families to create individual goals to ensure that students are making progress both socially and academically. She then maintains consistent, two-way communication to keep parents involved. Although most educators will see students with a wide range of learning needs in their classrooms, having a student with a labeled disability can often be intimidating or overwhelming. Many teachers worry they don’t have the experience or education to support students with identified needs. While it certainly is true that some students do require teachers to obtain new knowledge or skills, Ms. Carman believes that in most cases, all students, even ones with identified needs, can be successful in her classroom simply by expanding or adapting her current practices and strategies already in use.
"Miriam has worked tirelessly over the years to create an inclusive classroom environment for all learners to help develop critical thinking for student learning and achievement," her nominator said. "She provides alternative seating options for students with sensory needs. She keeps student materials organized and easily accessible for all students. Her classroom schedule is very structured, and routines are practiced and well known allowing students to feel confident in knowing what to expect."
Respect is discussed routinely in Ms. Carman’s classroom, and students are encouraged to communicate and connect with others to building a strong classroom community. She has stated that when students don’t succeed in an inclusive classroom, it is often because the lessons in some way are not accessible for students with disabilities. Therefore, she works to differentiate the curriculum, instruction, and assessments to help all students succeed. She uses a wide variety of lesson formats as well as offer many different types of instructional materials.
Some educators think about students with disabilities when they hear the word “inclusion.” Ms. Carman believes creating an effective inclusion classroom is not just providing an environment for students with identified needs to be successful. It is about thinking differently, teaching inventively, and considering how to prepare for everyone to learn. It is about being a better teacher for all.
"I consider Miriam Carman a compassionate teacher who is dedicated to creating an atmosphere that is stimulating and encouraging to all students." her nominator said.