Officially, Camia Hoard teaches first grade at Frazier Preparatory Academy, but she considers all the students there as her own. Thus, raising $60,000 to take a group of 24 Frazier fifth- and sixth-graders to Washington for the presidential inauguration this year was just part of her teaching philosophy.
For this kind of thinking outside of the box, Hoard was awarded a Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award.
The trip was a watershed experience for the older students. “Their eyes were opened to previous injustices faced by African-Americans, and they gained a deeper understanding of the struggles that led to this significant event,” Hoard said. She emphasized to them that any challenge can be overcome when you challenge yourself.
When the students returned, Hoard had them show the videotapes they’d made on the trip to her first-grade classroom, and the children all talked about what the older students had seen and their impressions of it.
Frazier is located in the North Lawndale neighborhood, which struggles with gangs and poverty. Hoard doesn’t want tough circumstances – or her students’ tender ages – to stop them from achieving whatever they want.
“When other teachers doubt their students’ abilities, Camia smiles and shows them what a student can accomplish if you believe in him or her,” said Melanie Weber, a special education teacher at Frazier.
Hoard had her current group of students as kindergarteners last year, and started them reading and writing. This year, she “looped” with the same group of students as their first-grade teacher and helped raise their scores on the DIBELS early reading assessment to the highest in the neighborhood.
Kohl McCormick evaluators were especially impressed by Hoard’s ability to let each child learn in the way that best suits him or her.
“She has the power and gift to connect schooling to the hearts and dreams of these children,” said Catherine Knox of the Dolores Kohl Education Foundation. “She makes education relevant to them.”
Meet our other Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award winners:
Learn more about the Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award.
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