LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Ellen Carnes

Position: K-5 Music Teacher
School: New Hopewell Elementary School
School District: Knox County
City, State: Knoxville, TN

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Ellen Carnes was nominated by her principal, Patricia Moore.

For three years, Mrs. Carnes has directed a musical production/play with interested students. She holds tryouts early in the school year and meets twice a week after school with the students to perfect their parts. Every student ends up with a part.

"I have never worked with a teacher who spends so much of her own time working with students," Moore said.

Mrs. Carnes also holds practices with students on instruments and keyboarding. She does these practices after school and every morning beginning at 7:05 AM. That means she is staying after school to work with her students four out of five days a week. 

"I wish I had a video of how the children rush Mrs. Carnes at the end of every play," Moore said. "I have no doubt if they could lift her on their shoulders as high school students do their coaches, these children would also do so."

Mrs. Carnes voluntarily does these things before and after school without receiving any compensation. Parents from other elementary schools want to bring their children to New Hopewell Elementary because of her programs. 

In addition to the after school activities, Mrs. Carnes is also a lead teacher. This position requires teachers to evaluate and guide the other teachers in the school.  With her arts integration skills and knowledge, she is a highly successful evaluator.  She not only leads classroom teachers, but she is also the mentor for the encore teachers. All the teachers respect and value her expertise.

Each day, Mrs. Carnes teaches two intervention groups. In these groups she successfully works with students to raise their reading or math scores, and moves them to the level of proficient. Every student in her intervention group, music class, and after school class is held to high expectations. Her students perform at a high level to meet her expectations.

"I have never observed an encore teacher with such high expectations for student success as well as behavior," Moore said. "We are so fortunate to have someone with such talent and love for students be at our school. It would be great to give her some recognition for all the time and hard work she dedicates to these children."