Chelsea Shiloh was nominated anonymously.
"I would like to nominate Ms. Chelsea Rae Shiloh, 6th-8th grade ELA (English Language Arts) Teacher at Charles Lewis Middle School in Gloucester Township, NJ, as a LifeChanger of the Year nominee. After reading the traits and characteristics of a LifeChanger, Ms. Shiloh epitomizes these traits with every fiber of her body as an educator. Some things that stand out to me that are in line with the nomination criteria are her creativity, challenging her students on highly rigorous content that requires deep critical thinking skills, fostering creativity and problem-solving thought processes, and encouraging students to find and follow their niche and passions in life," said the nominator.
"As a Junior High Teacher, it is often a challenge to teach 'content' vs. teaching 'students.' What I mean by this is that in elementary school, a large part of the job is teaching the whole child and helping them develop into good students and people while teaching fundamental academic knowledge. By high school, most teachers are content specialists working with 'little adults' who have already transitioned past those tumultuous emotional middle school years to focus on higher-level specific content such as Chemistry or Algebra. As a junior high teacher, however, you are caught between these two worlds of mentoring and inspiring the youth while tackling rigorous content," said the nominator.
"Ms. Shiloh has adeptly navigated this duality of middle school Literacy instruction through utilizing engaging high-interest content that captures her young teenager minds and interests while at the same time using these more contemporary books as windows to take students on journeys into the classics. Furthermore, she has gotten to know each of her students personally through team-building activities, after-school mentoring programs such as GALS (Girls, Artists, Leaders, Scholars), volunteering for school dances, the National Honor Society and Lewis Legends awards program, to name a few. Additionally, the countless sporting events and drama club presentations Ms. Shiloh attends per her students' requests are worth mentioning. These relationships she has with her students, coupled with the development of a safe learning space in her classroom and a love of literacy, have created a catalyst for her students to attack reading and writing in a way that is new to them and their parents. The atmosphere of love and respect in the classroom allows students to take risks and step outside their comfort zone academically and socially. Ms. Shiloh has received countless messages from parents over the years about how their child never liked to read or had a passion for literacy until Ms. Shiloh’s class. Ms. Shiloh will tell you, though, that before you can dive deep into literacy, you must show the students they are understood, heard, cared for, respected, and loved, and then you can START teaching them literacy," said the nominator.
"Ms. Shiloh has been with C.S. Lewis for the past five years and has taught all grade levels from 6th-8th grade. Lewis is known as a Title 1 school, meaning most students qualify for free and reduced lunch and generally come from a low-income status demographic. As a result, many students have had limited life experiences outside of our community and a limited view of the world beyond the South Jersey Area. I bring this up because Ms. Shiloh is masterful at using her literacy content as a gateway to take her students all over the world to learn about different cultures, different points in history, and impactful world events to break down the borders through the magic of literacy," said the nominator.
"As mentioned in the opening question above, Ms. Shiloh first sets out to create that safe space for students to feel loved, respected, cared for, supported, and believed in. From there, she exposes students to more pop-culture genres of books that they have good background knowledge of and can relate to. She uses these texts to cover basic grade-level standards and increase student's confidence in understanding literacy components such as character, setting, plot, theme, and point-of-view, as well as popular literacy devices such as metaphors, similes, alliteration, etc.," said the nominator.
"As Ms. Shiloh moves through the year and the foundation for the climate and culture of the class has been developed, as well as basic confidence in grade-level standards and core reading competencies, Ms. Shiloh takes her class to another level. This is where she now truly highlights what it means to be a LifeChanger. She moves kids out of their comfort zone and through history, transplanting time and place by tackling historical and influential classics from the ages. Ms. Shiloh doesn’t just teach these books but creates engaging, dynamic activities that allow the students to live and breathe in these texts. Whether acting out parts of the texts, creating unique dioramas that highlight literary content, or developing scavenger web quests and recipes for reading, Ms. Shiloh’s creativity is consistently overflowing," said the nominator.
"Ms. Shiloh can take these very challenging texts that allow students to grow in their comprehension and literacy skills, debate different time periods, and understand diverse cultural norms, governmental oversight, and even the rights of the individual vs. the populous. Through this dynamic way of teaching, students are becoming better thinkers, better able to see multiple points of view, able to discuss different thoughts and ideas respectfully, and get an understanding of life, both current and past, outside of their town of Gloucester Township, NJ," said the nominator.
"Ms. Shiloh’s presence and contributions outside of the classroom at Charles Lewis speak directly to mentoring students to follow their passions. She is one of the pioneering founders and developers of the GALS (Girls, Artists, Leaders, Scholars) mentoring club, whose entire focus and goal is to create a space for teenage girls to look inward to find themselves and build confidence, goals, dreams, and passions. Ms. Shiloh helped develop the curriculum for this program and created fun, engaging activities that allowed the students to express themselves through verbal presentations, art, music, and poetry. This club became so popular that extra days had to be added to the schedule to accommodate the needs of students that wanted to attend," said the nominator.
"Another major activity Ms. Shiloh has taken on right in that same vain of supporting and mentoring students is the coordination of the Lewis Legends Program. Here, Ms. Shiloh works with the entire school staff to create partnerships between teachers and specific students where students are paired with a teacher as their Lewis Legend. This program is highlighted at a celebration assembly where teachers can 'present' their Lewis Legend students to the school and share all the amazing accomplishments that students have done over the year," said the nominator.
"Finally, Ms. Shiloh supports some of our other students going from “good to great” by pushing them beyond just strong academic school performance, encouraging them, and mentoring them into enrollment into the prestigious National Junior Honor Society. Ms. Shiloh works directly with these students on service learning projects, fundraising, and a summative student-led induction ceremony where student leaders must speak and help run the program under Ms. Shiloh's guidance, direction, and support! Through Ms. Shiloh’s work and the students' mentorship, the Lewis Chapter is one of the larger chapters in this Nationwide National Society," said the nominator.