Tracie Lane was nominated by Rachel Bracken, the parent of a student.
"I first met Ms. Lane during the summer, when my family moved from Texas to the DC area," said Bracken. "Our rising first grader was both nervous and excited to start a new school, so we did a lot of research to see if we could help him figure out what to expect - registering at the school, joining school Facebook groups, following them on Twitter, etc. Ms. Lane posted a request for volunteers in the community Facebook group to help rearrange the library for the new school year, and I went in to see what I could do. Over the course of the next few hours, I learned about all that Ms. Lane had done and planned to do to encourage growth in the areas of diversity and equality within her library and among her students. I was impressed, but her goals seemed ambitious."
"Well, I learned a lesson that day: never doubt the tenacity of a passionate teacher," said Bracken. "Over the next year, I watched as Ms. Lane added book after book to her library to ensure every child in the school saw themselves in the books they were reading, from children who are English-language learners, to boys who love the color pink, and everyone in between – children of all races, ethnicities, and abilities, children in every possible kind of family structure, kids with every kind of interest, etc."
Ms. Lane created a student maker-space out of what seemed like thin air, but was really built from hard work and dedication. She wanted to make sure her students had every opportunity to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) and beyond, collaborating with her fellow teachers to gather supplies and technology resources.
"As a PTO parent, I was privy to her incredibly professional proposal for technology funds from the mid-year fundraiser and was once again blown away by her ambition, this time completely convinced of her inevitable success," said Bracken. "As the year went on, I started familiarizing myself with the community around me, and I realized how involved Ms. Lane with every aspect of our community. She participates in school board meetings to support diversity initiatives, works with local equality organizations, and collaborates with her fellow teachers to fight for the tools and resources needed to support her colleagues and the children they teach."
Ms. Lane is a beloved member of her community - at the county and school district level, at her individual school, and within the entire state of Virginia for her work and dedication to students across all walks of life.
"We live in an area where what happens within our community often has an impact felt across the country, and Ms. Lane takes that charge very seriously, while also managing to have a tremendous amount of fun with the kids she works with every day," said Bracken. "Like every teacher, she doesn’t restrict her work to just the daytime, but creates many evening events with her team and participates in so many others. For example, the annual Reading Night Event she and her fellow teachers put together is a spectacular, fun-filled occasion and a great start to every school year. It's complete with tents and flashlights where kids can read 'under the stars,' hear authors read their own books, play word games, explore maker spaces, and perform plays from their favorite stories."
"In short, Ms. Lane makes sure that every child who comes through her library doors knows there are books they will love and relate to," said Bracken. "She opens up worlds of wonder by fostering a true love of reading. I know from observation that her work is not born from rainbows and fairy dust and is instead likely fueled by sleepless nights, caffeine, and the occasional band-aid. It always seems, however, to look like glitter and wizardry to our children. And that is, in itself, its own kind of very special magic, isn’t it?"