What type of advice does a three-time Teacher of the Year give to her students?
“Each day I try to instill in my [students] the importance of always giving 110 percent and never thinking that life is going to give them anything. I try to show [them] the importance of working hard. I try to instill in them the importance of respecting themselves and respecting others. Hopefully, the seeds that I’m planting today will continue to grow,” revealed Kings Springs Elementary School teacher Patricia Calvin-Thomas.
Since Calvin-Thomas started teaching in 1994, her teaching peers have awarded her the title of Teacher of the Year three times because of her success with her students.
On a recent Friday, however, a different award had the fifth grade teacher floating on cloud nine. This time, one of her students selected her for the only award in Cobb County given from a student to a teacher. Fifth grader Alicia named Calvin-Thomas the Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week.
While addressing her entire school over the morning announcements, Alicia listed reasons why the Phenomenal Teacher stands out, without saying Calvin-Thomas’s name. Besides being funny and nice, Alicia praised the Phenomenal Teacher for sacraficing her lunch break to tutor students who are having difficulty with a particular subject area.
“When I saw Alicia standing up there, and I started listening to all the characteristics she was sharing, I was like ‘oh my goodness, that’s amazing! I wonder who it is?’ The students in the room started whispering, “It is you,”’” recalled Calvin-Thomas with a smile.
When Calvin-Thomas realized Alicia was talking about her. She was definitely surprised, but absolutely amazed to be recognized by a student for her work in the classroom.
The Phenomenal Teacher considers her success with students to be a teaching gift.
“I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher,” Calvin-Thomas explained. “I had amazing teachers throughout my life who always had high expectations for me. They never let me get away with half-stepping. So, when I became a teacher, I said I’m going to do the exact same thing for my students.”
At King Springs, where she has been teaching since 2001, the Phenomenal Teacher strives to teach her students the importance of earning an education. She sets the bar high for her students.
“I don’t allow them to do anything but their best,” she added.
Part of her attitude in the classroom stems from how her own parents pushed her when she was growing up. As a little girl, Calvin-Thomas would go around her neighborhood and pick up trash at the direction of her dad. At the time, she didn’t understand the importance of cleaning up yards, outside of her own, but her dad shared wise words that Calvin-Thomas now uses with her students.
“You are a part of this society. You are going to give back in a meaningful way. You have your job to do,” she advises her students.