Heidi Smith is a kindergarten teacher at Miles Elementary School.
I love working at an Achievement School because I believe all kids can learn and be successful, no matter what their zip code is.
I have been teaching for 16 years, and all of them, except for one, have been in Title 1 schools. Unfortunately, what you hear about those schools are things like “these kids can’t,” but I believe they can. Not only do I believe it, I know they can.
Do some of these kids come with challenges that most kids don’t have to face? Absolutely. We have some kids who are homeless and some who have a parent in prison. We have some who have just moved to the country and don’t speak a word of English, but here at Miles, we meet those kids where they are.
I like that challenge, and I like to prove those people wrong and say yes, these kids can learn and be successful. It’s exciting that I get to be their very first encounter in this new adventure called school, and I take that responsibility very seriously.
The experience they have with me in the kindergarten classroom can either be a positive experience that makes them love school and want to come for the next 12 years, or it can be a negative experience. I want them to leave my class in May loving school and being a lifelong learner.
It’s the joy that I get during the year and at the end of the year, seeing a smile on the child’s face who reads a sentence for the first time, or the hug I get from a parent who is crying and saying that she never thought her kid would be successful in school. That reward is worth it all to me, and when my students see me investing in not just them, but also in their parents, that furthers the special bond with them.
We have a class meeting in the mornings, which is a time where the students can be open and honest about all kinds of things, like their personal feelings about things going on at home or in the school. It breaks down those walls, and they are willing to take risks in front of their peers. They’re willing to ask questions, not just of me but of each other, and ultimately you see them persevere.
Every staff member on this campus believes that all of these children can achieve, and they love them. The students at Miles know they are safe, and they know they are loved.
This is Why #WeAchieveTogether.
Do you know a dedicated Achievement Schools leader, teacher, staff or community member who you would like to see featured in Why #WeAchieveTogether? To nominate someone, contact Kendra Oestreich, Communications: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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