LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Diamantina Ellis

Position: Bilingual Kindergarten Teacher
School: A.B. McBay Elementary School
School District: Mexia ISD
City, State: Mexia , TX

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Diamantina (Tina) Ellis was nominated by Jonathan Price, her former assistant principal.

Ms. Ellis fits the definition of a LifeChanger in more ways than one. She is not only a kindergarten teacher, but a mentor, an innovator, and a preacher as she helps her husband pastor their local church. Ms. Ellis teaches her students in both English and Spanish, and her job can be especially difficult. Many of her students come to her only speaking Spanish, and some of them have rarely been in the presence of anyone who speaks English. On a daily basis, she switches back and forth between the languages a countless number of times to help her children begin to master the difficult task of learning the English language and customs that will help them succeed in life.

Ms. Ellis uses her platform as a teacher to help her students form relationships with local law enforcement officers. She wants to make sure students and the police don't view each other as enemies.

"I witnessed Tina bringing in local police officers and state troopers to read stories to her students," said Price. "Many of her children, especially those in lower socio-economic areas, are being raised in environments where law enforcement officers are seen as the enemy, and as people who want to tear apart their families. Tina works hard to change that perception."

Ms. Ellis routinely invites officers into her classroom to read stories and participate in activities that will form a bond with the students. When students see a uniformed officer put on a silly hat and a pointy nose to act out a character in the book they are reading and they see him sitting with them on the floor of the classroom, the officer becomes something more. When the entire class participates in an activity to create a giant birthday card for the campus School Resource Officer, it helps the students understand he is more than a badge, that he is a person with a family and that he has a birthday just like them. 

Each school year, these officers become a regular presence in Tina’s classroom, forming bonds with students that will hopefully carry forward from year to year and from the campus into their homes. Her work is helping more families feel comfortable with local law enforcement officers, cementing the understanding that they truly are here to protect and serve.

Comments (10)

Josh Hollingsworth Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Ellis is very deserving of this award. She works extremely hard and is very dedicated to her students. She has a very difficult job, as she is not only teaching kindergarten students to read, but she is teaching Spanish speaking students to read English. She is a leader among her grade level and has truly made this campus a better place. Her students are better because of her and McBay Elementary is extremely grateful to have her. Thanks for all you do Mrs. Ellis.

Cherilyn Gwen Ziemer, Ed.D. Posted over a year ago

Ms. Ellis is a very creative and innovative educator. She integrates technology in the students' learning processes employing unique instructional strategies that are engaging. These strategies also empower her students to practice communicating in the English language in a safe environment. .

Traci Houston Posted over a year ago

Congratulations! You deserve this! You care deeply for these kids and I thank you for everything you’ve shared with me!

SHELLI S KILLINGSWORTH Posted over a year ago

I am proud to be a colleague of Mrs. Ellis. She uses flexible seating which allows her students to learn in a more comfortable environment. She has excellent classroom management, creating a family atmosphere. Her students are engaged in her exciting lessons and are soaking in the academic and life lessons that she teaches them. Tina Ellis is very deserving of this award!

Gayle Henson Posted over a year ago

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Accomplishing anything great in life requires significant change that pushes us beyond our comfort zones. Tina Ellis not only provides a safe heaven for her students to experience difficult, uneasy changes in their lives, she leads by example for she has tackled major obstacles and came out victorious. Of course, dealing with uninvited change in our lives is often difficult and painful. In many cases, Lisa shows her students that whatever change they are dealing with, know that, how you cope with that change, will have an impact on your future.

Shelly Burns Posted over a year ago

So proud of you! You deserve this!!

Debbie Fulbright Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Tina! You are an inspiration to all of us, not just your students to to your colleagues as well. You gave me advice and shared teaching supplies as well. Thank You for all you do and congratulations again.

Rhonda Mills Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Ellis is an amazing woman who possess character traits of high moral values, inspiration to all, and an ability to light the room with her smile and warm personality. She utilizes these strengths to facilitate positive movements in the classroom that make huge connections with all stakeholders in our community. Congratulations and best of luck to you today and always.

Dr. Drews Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Ellis has a high level of enthusiasm and passion for what she does. She is kind to students, yet challenges them to work hard and reach for the stars. We are proud to have her as part of Mexia ISD.

Jason Ellis Posted over a year ago

Way to go, Tina. I am so proud of the difference you are making in the lives of students in Mexia.