2004-2005 Sacramento County Teacher of the Year Carol Cleland
Although Cleland currently teaches a 3rd grade GATE class, she’s taught every level from first through fifth. In the essay she submitted for the competition, Cleland stated, “I love teaching elementary grades because I am able to re-discover all of my favorite subjects including math, science, reading, writing and history. This age group enables me to stay young at heart.”
Cleland believes that the most influential teacher for any child is the parent or guardian. “It is with this in mind that I strive to form an alliance with the parents and student in order to maximize the potential of the child,” she said. In doing so, she feels she has a privileged role as the teacher. “It is my role to stimulate, encourage and support the unique qualities in the children I teach,” she added.
Asked about some of the memorable moments in teaching, she recalled a class of summer school students who made it clear they would rather be someplace else. “This class was punctuated with groans when told them of my plan for a writing program,” she remembered, “but I worked out a system that included free writing with a structured format. Each week the enthusiasm grew. By the fourth week, they were asking for more time to continue their writing and eight students skipped recess to write.”
She also recalled one student in particular who stayed after school to work on an essay until she deemed it perfect. The young lady won second place in the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Essay Contest. “I could not have been more proud to see her with her parents as she accepted her award,” Cleland said.
Magical moments happen in her class – like the morning her first graders walked into the classroom just as eggs in their incubator were hatching into chicks. “I know my children will always remember those tiny little peeps.”
With every class she’s taught, Cleland believes she’s learned and grown from the experience. In turn, she knows she influences her students. “There is a little bit of me sprinkled on the lives of my students as we share our love of learning together.”