In a school that has very little, this month’s honoree gives a lot. She insists her students can do anything if they just try — and her encouragement hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Moneshia Stampley, student: “My teacher is the best eighth-grade teacher you could ever have.”
So begins the letter that Moneshia Stampley wrote asking us to consider her teacher, Candace Coleman-Blackshire, as April’s teacher of the month. Mrs. Blackshire teaches at Foster Park Magnet Cluster School in Chicago’s Chatham community.
Moneshia Stampley: “Our school doesn’t have a lot of money or things like that, but we have amazing teachers. This teacher has amazing things to offer us. Our eighth-grade class was considered below average, but now, ever since Mrs. Blackshire has worked there, she takes time out of her day to talk to students about personal conflicts and academic conflicts. She tutors with one-on-one to make us feel great about ourselves, knowing we can do anything if we just try.”
Candace Coleman-Blackshire, Teacher of the Month: “Coming in I knew that we were a level three school. I knew that we had a lot of work to do, so I came in saying that I was going to do the best that I can to get my students to where they need to be by doing everything I could do, as much work as possible, making sure they understood that they could meet the achievement goals, and they could reach whatever their potential goals are.”
Moneshia Stampley: “I struggled with math a lot, and she told me if I just push myself to the limits and I studied and everything and now I really get the concept. And now math is my favorite subject.”
Mrs. Blackshire has had and continues to have her work cut out for her and, wisely so, she’s not trying to do it alone.
Mrs. Blackshire: “I try to make sure that I include my parents as much as possible because that is a very big part of students achieving as they have been. I have eighth-grade parent meetings as often as possible to make sure parents know what the achievement goals are, what they need to do to have their children ready for the next level, which is high school.”
She hammers away at the importance of taking the next step and being prepared for it when the time comes. And her students, not the least of them being Moneshia Stampley.
Moneshia Stampley: “My teacher is the best eighth-grade teacher you could ever have.”
Mrs. Blackshire: “It’s a humbling thing to hear a student say that I’m the best. That’s huge to hear that my students think that highly of me. I try to constantly get better and grow stronger for them and get them to get better and grow stronger for themselves.”