Meet Our Fourth High 5 Winner, Sheila H.
Kindergarten Teacher & Reading Specialist
Teacher Peach is pleased to present the fourth winner of Teacher Peach’s “Granting Teacher Goals!” High 5 Initiative, Sheila H.
Sheila H. introduces a touching initiative called Operation Santa Soldier Stockings. This annual initiative provides goodie-filled stockings to deployed soldiers from Virginia, direct from their home state. Sheila switches locations and units across the state to make sure her students connect with as many soldiers as possible deployed in areas all around our world. Sheila blends philanthropy with education as this event teaches students about various areas of social studies such as continents, oceans, and geographical needs and wants. Operation Santa Soldier Stockings reaches out to the community by inviting local families and businesses to join the event, proving that small voices DO make a big impact.
LeeAndra Khan, judge of this High 5 Initiative, explains why Operation Santa Soldier Stockings was chosen to be one of five winning initiatives. “This project helps students to develop international mindedness and gets them closer to thinking globally. Students learn about a much larger world at a young age. They also get the opportunity to be a part of a community effort and understand that every voice—including a young voice—is important.”
Sheila Says . . .
We had the privilege of interviewing Sheila about her experiences in education and her goals for her project. Check out what she shared with us about her “story”—
TP: How long have you been teaching?
SH: I have been at this wonderful elementary school since August of 1997. Next year will be my 20th year!
TP: Why did you become a teacher?
SH: I began my career as an Interpreter for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I saw the struggles of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and knew I could use this skill while teaching hearing children to read. When you teach a child to read, you give that child the key to a much bigger future!
TP: What are the most inspiring aspects of teaching for you?
SH: In my first year of classroom teaching Kindergarten, I had a student with autism who taught me that I can control the content and methods that I use to teach, but as a teacher, we cannot “control” the child. Each student has a special gift and/or quality that as a teacher, you have to work with in order to help that child’s knowledge grow. A lot of this growth comes from your excitement in teaching your students each day.
TP: How do you think this project will impact your students and what outcomes are you hoping to achieve?
SH: Operation Santa Soldier Stockings gives each child the chance to make a new connection with another part of their world. Kindergarteners are generally still very literal thinkers. They know the their little world, area they live in and the people in their family. They need projects like this to help them to experience a connection outside their own local community. This kind of project helps to expand their thinking, provide a bigger landscape for their future dreams. It begins this early. When these young learners grow up and become adults, perhaps they will choose careers based on what they may have experienced in the classroom, as early as Kindergarten. In this project, students work with family members and community stakeholders to ask for donations from our list to be able to provide gifts and needs to our soldiers protecting us. It helps them understand that other people have needs and even little learners can help to fulfill those needs. It’s a great way to help kids see the value they can add. This empowerment can go a long way as these kids continue to grow and learn.
TP: What advice would you have for other teachers?
SH: If you are a teacher who has a strong passion for a particular project, maintain your focus even when or especially when others may not see the value or possibly even find fault with your idea. Children sense and learn from your passion and if your passion can teach them a passion for giving and not receiving, that is one of the most important results of any plan or idea used in teaching. As teachers, we model love and caring to our students with every action we take. Hopefully, they will continue on this journey as they grow up, and strive to think of others before themselves.
Sparked by Sheila?
Teacher Peach is proud to help Sheila bring Operation Santa Soldier Stocking to her students, community, and around the world! It’s wonderful to see a project dedicated to sending our deserving troops these special stockings and care packages—giving them a little piece of home and reminding them that even the littlest Virginians are thinking of them! In addition to the $100 award, Teacher Peach is also sharing some awesome classroom products with Sheila and her students. Check out just a few of these Teacher Peach products Sheila will use to help her students send smiles to troops this upcoming Holiday season!
Take a Peek!
Sheila shows us what it’s like inside Operation Santa Soldier Stocking!
What ideas does Sheila’s project spark for you? How could you create or adapt a project like this for your students? What spaces surround your classroom that could be enlivened by the creativity of your kids?