Innovative teachers honored
Published 8:00 am Thursday, November 9, 2023
Charlotte County Public Schools puts an emphasis on being creative. And that includes more than just the students. Each quarter, the district recognizes innovative teachers, one from each school, and puts a spotlight on their work. Each teacher receives an appreciation token from Superintendent Dr. Robbie Mason.
Here’s a look at the teachers recognized for the first quarter of this school year, as well as some of the work they’re doing.
EUREKA ELEMENTARY — HEATH DRINKARD
This marks Drinkard’s fourth year of teaching PE at Eureka. The staff say he’s worked hard during this time to develop his PE program to better meet the needs of his students. Since he typically has anywhere from 50 to 80 students during his PE classes, Drinkard decided to reallocate his resources so he could provide more instruction. What did that include? Rather than meeting with all of the PE students for a grade level every day, Drinkard has divided grade levels into three classes. The entire grade level meets together on Monday and Friday. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Drinkard meets with a different group each day while the other two groups work with the PE paraprofessionals.
Drinkard said he uses this time with the smaller group to emphasize the importance of health and fitness to students and to work on learning rules to new and different games while also having more of an opportunity to play the games with the smaller group. This change has resulted in more student engagement, which has also resulted in fewer behavioral issues during PE. The change is also allowing Drinkard to teach some games and skills that would not be possible with the entire grade level present.
“The changes Mr. Drinkard has made have been positive and have improved health and Physical Education instruction for students at Eureka,” Principal Brian Hamilton said in a statement.
BACON DISTRICT ELEMENTARY — KATE DAVIS
Kate Davis is a veteran teacher at Bacon; however, staff members say she is constantly developing ways to improve as a teacher so that her students can grow into critical thinkers.
Davis’ students routinely have high math SOL scores, but she focuses on more than that. She wants students to think about the way numbers work.
One recent lesson included teaching math without using numbers! She offered students a challenging project where they partnered with each other to get the work done. Davis’s students did not mind the challenge; they weren’t upset when they were initially unsuccessful and had to start the process over. Instead, the students were challenged, fully engaged, and ready to try it. “This is the definition of innovation: introducing new ideas, trying new methods, and creative thinking,” said Bacon District Principal Anne Snead. “I was just as engaged as the students.”
CENTRAL MIDDLE SCHOOL — WILLIAM COLLINS
William Collins is the 8th-grade Civics teacher at Central Middle School. He and all of the CMS staff were challenged to make the first week of the 2023-24 school year a time for connection, creativity, and exploration. Collins did just that in his Jack and the Beanstalk lesson. He had his Civics students explore the elements of the judicial system by creating a mock trial for the famous “Jack” from the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk. This creative and hands-on lesson allowed students to see the courts come to life.
“The students had fun getting to know some of the components of Civics while remembering a fairy tale from the past,” said Central Principal Jessica Pillow.
PHENIX ELEMENTARY — SUZANNE DRISKILL
Like many educators, Suzanne Driskill quietly and unobtrusively goes about the business of teaching and helping.
“She is a shining example of an innovative elementary teacher who seamlessly integrates technology into her classroom,” said Phenix Principal Danny Richardson. “Her dedication to fostering a dynamic learning environment has not only captivated her students but has also inspired her colleagues. She is always there to lend a helping hand.”
Through her creative use of digital and analog tools, Driskill has transformed traditional lessons into engaging, interactive experiences that cater to the diverse learning styles of even the youngest learners. Her commitment to staying abreast of the latest educational technology and instructional trends ensures that her students are well-prepared for the digital age.
RANDOLPH-HENRY — ZILKE GREENLAND
Randolph-Henry High School (R-H) recognized Zilke Greenland as their first innovative teacher this year. Greenland is a new teacher this year at R-H, specializing in Anatomy and Physiology. Officials there say Greenland.
“She has a kind and compassionate demeanor but commands her students’ attention through a variety of hands-on activities,” said R-H Principal Erin Davis. “Her students put their skills to use by creating models and drawings of what they are learning in class.”
Recently, her students learned about the various types of muscles in the human body. Students examined these muscles through a microscope and made illustrations that highlight the differences in these muscle groups. To conclude this unit, she took students outside to participate in a muscle training activity on the front lawn led by Kari Joyner.