Fifteen-year-old Sabrina Brown doesn’t always believe it when teachers tell her she’s beautiful, unique, intelligent, talented and can be anything she wants.
There’s a difference when she hears those same words from her mentor, Jordan Todd, a second-grade teacher at Walter G. Byers School.
“She makes me believe it,” Sabrina said. “She believes in me a lot.”
Apparently Todd has made many believers, judging by the thunderous cheers when she was named the 2016 Teacher of the Year for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on Wednesday at Providence High School.
Todd represents the Project Leadership and Investment For Transformation learning community. Project L.I.F.T. is a public-private partnership that, through an affiliation with nine schools, seeks to improve the way students who traditionally perform poorly in school are educated.
Walter G. Byers, where Todd has worked for four years, is considered one of the district’s most resegregated and low-performing schools.
“You are my family; you are amazing people,” she said in response to the cheers after making her way to the stage dressed in a black blouse and slacks and a white jacket.
Perhaps fitting for a teacher charged with lifting young people up, her 5-year-old son, Jaxson Brooks wore a black cape with a Batman logo on the back for the occasion.
“We are the builders of the next generation,” she told reporters immediately after the ceremony. “I want to be a part of building that next generation.”
A second-generation educator, Todd was chosen to be Teacher of the Year from among seven finalists. The UNC Charlotte graduate told the group that in accepting the award she represents the body of teachers and administrators at Walter G. Byers who share her commitment to meeting all of a child’s needs, not just those in the classroom.
“She brings excellence to Byers,” said Principal Anthony Calloway. “She is a leader among teachers.”
That’s what Lindsay Hemphill, 8, has come to expect from her teacher, who has more than 30 students in her class.
“Everything is going smoothly and in order, and Miss Todd is going to make a great experience,” Lindsay said.
Other finalists, chosen from each of the district’s learning communities, are: Maggie Barker, Park Road Montessori, Central; Natasha Deese, Butler High, East; Heather Glover, Blythe Elementary, North; Rob Leichner, West Mecklenburg High, West; Justin Parmenter, E.E. Waddell, South; and Lauren Rohrer, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle, Northeast.
Karen Sullivan: 704-358-5532, @Sullivan_kms