Leslie Martin, fourth grade teacher, is the 2012-2013 Westside School Teacher of the Year.
"Ms. Martin is an outstanding teacher," said Ann Dodson, principal of Westside School. "She is dedicated not only to ensuring that each child in her class learns, but that every child succeeds as well. We're very thankful she is a member of the Westside family."
The "Teacher of the Year" is nominated by his or her colleagues based upon the teacher's broad, in-depth knowledge of the subject(s) taught; skill and dedication as a professional teacher; respect of students, parents, co-workers, principals and administrators; and ability to demonstrate a pattern of performing all assigned duties professionally and in accordance with local, state and federal policies.
Martin began her career as a teacher at Westside School in 2006 and praises the faculty and staff of Westside for making the school a great place to work.
"The staff here at Westside is wonderful," said Martin. "Mrs. Dodson goes out of her way to support us in any way we may need. The teachers treat one another like family and will help each other without even being asked. Of course, we all come for the kids, but the grown-ups in the building make the days more fun."
Below, Martin explains why she believes teaching is her "calling" and her goals for each of her students.
Why did you choose to become a teacher?
I did not choose teaching as a career actually. I had no desire to be a teacher. In college, I did not know what I wanted to be, but I knew two things: I wanted a profession with minimal stress, and I wanted a job with no homework because I had had enough of that. Doesn't exactly sound like teaching does it? But God called me; I fought Him. He won. He does know best.
Is there someone who serves as a role model for you as a teacher?
I had many great teachers in school that I could use as role models, but I choose my colleagues as my role models. I appreciate being able to walk down the hall and see and hear amazing teaching taking place at Westside School. We share with each other what we’re doing in the classroom, what’s working, and what’s not. I’ve stolen many of my best ideas from others in this very building.
What is your goal for your students?
Like all teachers, I want my students to do all their homework, participate in class, and ace every test I give. That is not realistic, though. So I want them to leave my class with more knowledge, and good memories, than they came in with. I want them to be prepared, to be kind, contributing citizens in the community.
What do you believe to be the most important thing you teach your students?
Academic-wise, I wish we were able to teach students the basic skills they will truly need and use in life- adding, subtracting, counting change, telling time … I feel like I’m doing them a disservice by giving them calculators for everything as we adapt to the changing standards. I guess more than anything though, I hope they pick up on the unspoken lessons I try to teach - kindness to those around them and respect for everyone.
What do you hope is in the future of Athens City Schools?
I would love to see schools nation-wide move forward by looking backward. Even without the technology our kids have access to, I think my parents’ generation received a wonderful education. They were doing something right in the old one-room school houses. Not that I want all the kids in one room with wooden benches and a chalkboard, but I think that generation was focused on the right things.