Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series on north Okaloosa Teachers of the Year.
CRESTVIEW — "I'm not a worksheet teacher, where I just copy off worksheets and just have students work on them all day," Antioch Elementary School teacher Debra Walker said. "I try to get them interested in the world."
The second-grade teacher often turns to mixed media to facilitate student engagement. Students have created booklets on various topics and used magnets to portray hurricane safety.
"She works diligently to find any way possible to help her children learn," principal Wanda Avery said. "She also spends a lot of her own money in the classroom."
Walker also gives plenty of spare time to prepare lesson plans, grade papers or research effective teaching methods. However, that’s true of all teachers who work well after the final school bell rings at 3:25 p.m., she said.
"Most of our cars are still here into the later part of the afternoon," she said. "People don't realize that our jobs don't end when the children leave."
Her spirit of solidarity precludes her from accepting special recognition. Upon learning that colleagues named her Teacher of the Year, Walker took a humble approach.
"At first I wanted to withdraw my name," she said. "Knowing what I know about the teachers here, I am not any better than they are."
Instead, she accepted the award on behalf of the school’s 63 other teachers.
Walker’s four years at Antioch are a part of her 28-year teaching career that may end in a few years when she likely will retire.
Avery would hate to see her go.
"She will be missed," Avery said. "She is a valuable part of our staff.
Nevertheless, the long stretch leaves few woes for Walker — except for student limitations.
"The only thing I regret in my ability to work with children is that there are some cases where I just can't get them where they need to be," she said.
"The one thing I want most in this world is for every child that walks in this classroom to be successful."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.