Lexington County School District One proudly names Rocky Creek Elementary 4-Year-Old Kindergarten Teacher Mary Jane Britt its District Teacher of the Year.
Britt, and all 31 school-level teachers of the year, were honored during a virtual celebration held Monday, April 26.
Like many educators, Britt credits a few outstanding teachers from her childhood with inspiring her to follow in their footsteps.
Britt admits she struggled academically as a child and required remedial classes. But, she says, one of these impactful teachers never gave up on her, giving her extra tutoring and love.
“My fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Brown, taught me that no matter where you come from or your circumstances, teachers can make a positive difference in their students’ lives. I am proud to say I am doing for my students exactly what she did for me almost 30 years ago,” said Britt.
Britt says that Ms. Brown’s compassion and commitment sparked her love of reading and changed the trajectory of her life — not only improving her reading, but also her confidence.
Britt chose to teach our youngest learners in hopes of giving them a strong foundation for life and a love of learning. She does not take it for granted that she is often their first teacher.
“Many of my students come into our classroom with no previous school experience,” said Britt. “I meet them where they are so that my teaching builds on their strengths and satisfies their needs.”
She gets to know them inside and outside the classroom, even visiting the homes of each student to help ease their transition to school.
As a teacher, she believes that relationships with her students and their families are paramount to helping students realize their dreams.
“I must make them feel loved, valued and safe before any learning can occur. Once a relationship is established, we can achieve great things,” said Britt.
Each morning, you can see her kneeling in her classroom to greet her students at their eye level. She celebrates their wins — whether it’s opening their own snack or spelling their name correctly for the first time.
“When they leave my classroom they love school, they are confident, and many of them have become readers and writers.”
She knows that each of these classroom successes shape her students. And they, in turn, shape her.
“Little do they know they give me purpose and inspire me to be a better person.”
Britt, a 13-year educator, now goes on to compete at the state-level Teacher of the Year competition.