From the time she was nominated until she was named Teacher of the Year, Whitney Glenn wanted to make the competition about her school.
And she learned a little about herself along the way.
“Really, I knew I always wanted to be a teacher, but until this process I never knew why,” Glenn said.
After being nominated as Pee Dee Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year, Glenn and the nominees from every other school had to write a paper answering questions about their contributions to the district.
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“I found out a lot about myself in writing that paper, and I also found out how passionate I am about advocating for other teachers and advocating for our profession,” she said.
Working on the first paper, Glenn realized that her decision to become a teacher was influenced by teachers she had as a kid.
Her second-grade teacher taught her how to keep a journal, and her fifth-grade teacher took her and several other students out to lunch at the end of the school year, Glenn said.
“So remembering all that, I think all those things in combination with my family and my faith just solidified the decision,” she said.
The next step of the process was a shorter paper focusing on big-picture education issues followed by classroom observation of the top five finalists.
The school district would not release evaluations or scorecards for the top five, but the finalists were judged by factors such as “Respect and Rapport,” “Instruction,” “Classroom Procedures,” “Engaging Students in Learning” and “Providing Feedback to Students,” among others, according to a rubric.
“We team plan,” Glenn said. “So what I’m doing, our colleagues are doing it. I wanted (the Teacher of the Year selection committee) to see how hard we work, the daily grind of what we do, because my colleagues are doing it too. I’m not the only one. They’re all working just as hard as I am.”
Pee Dee Principal Angela Huggins said Glenn wanted the process from the beginning to be about the entire school.
“Whenever she was first named, she came to me and said ‘I want to use this as a way to let people know about Pee Dee. I want people to know about our babies here and how much we get along with each other and how much we love each other’ and all those things,” Huggins said. “She said, “I want to win, but I also want people to know about our school.’”
Huggins said she thinks Glenn was chosen because she’s a helper.
“She’s invested in every teacher and every child in this building. She wants everybody to do well,” Huggins said. “She helps people on her grade level, she helps new teachers. She really wants people to do better. She recognizes that she has some gifts and talents and she wants to share those with other people.”