Brenda Whitley was nominated by an anonymous colleague.
Ms. Whitley is a natural teacher. She not only creates a nurturing atmosphere for all students, but she fosters learning by meshing functional life skills with academic skills in her class environment. She is beneficial to the lives of all students in a very unique way.
When one enters Ms. Whitley's classroom, children with exceptional needs cannot be distinguished from their general education peers. Why? Because she accommodates all students in the class so the children with exceptional needs can fit in. For example, she had a child in her class who required a visual schedule to navigate centers and transitions. Ms. Whitley created a visual schedule and created "peer buddies" and small groups for every student in her classroom so the child could fit in without obvious "special accommodations."
Ms. Whitley is positive in her feedback to all students. She never shows favoritism and consistently provides verbal, optimistic feedback to her students. She asks them questions so they reflect on their behavior and instills independence in learning, making the necessary adjustments to teach her students to be independent thinkers and learners. Ms. Whitley is a team player who often offers assistance to her colleagues, expecting nothing in return. Her students make significant growth each year in academics and maturity. She uses data throughout the year and small group instruction in center rotations to target each student's individual needs. She celebrates and encourages growth of each child's educational milestones, and she never compares one child to the other, recognizing each individual's unique potential for growth.
Ms. Whitley sets a good example of professionalism by being prompt and speaking kind words about others around the students. She is an excellent role model to both her students and staff by balancing professionalism with human needs. She is honest about when she makes mistakes, apologizes to her class when she makes errors, and demonstrates humility among other character traits best taught to impressionable young ones through example. In terms of leadership, Ms. Whitley serves as grade level chair. She has also participated on the School Improvement Team, Parent Teacher Organization, and Schools that Lead, and she has served as Improvement Facilitator.
Ms. Whitley is a dedicated instructor. Student learning is her priority, but she strikes a balance between between professionalism and learning expectations with affection and kindness, recognizing her students first and foremost as human beings. She embeds safety procedures into the classroom, teaching precaution without provoking fear. Ms. Whitley finds value in each student and encourages growth. She does not complain and approaches problem-solving solutions in a firm but gentle manner. Her students clearly love and respect her and often demonstrate positive attitudes. Her students' eagerness to learn and smiles on their faces are a testament to her inspiration.
"Brenda Whitley exemplifies all an educator should be and is a Life Changer to many in her school and community," said her nominator.