Meet KFM’s March Teacher of the Month: Valerie Hawkins

2016-3 ToM Valerie Hawkins Header

105.3 KFM along with Galesburg Nissan congratulate Valerie Hawkins, March’s KFM Teacher of the Month. Mrs Hawkins is a 1st grade teacher at King Elementary School in Galesburg and was nominated by Alexandria Clark and her mom Natalie. As KFM’s Teacher of the Month, Mrs Hawkins receives the Big Red Apple Award along with a $100 gift card and other prizes courtesy of Lacky Monuments, Tompkins State Bank and Casey’s Party Creations. Here’s a little bit about Mrs Hawkins

Where did you grow up? I grew up in the country outside of Oneida and attended ROWVA schools for all of my K-12 schooling.

Years teaching: 18 (all in Galesburg)

Favorite Subject Growing Up: Reading

Favorite Subject To Teach: Math (although reading is a close 2nd)

Favorite Food: Sushi

Least Favorite Food: Sauerkraut

My Favorite Movie: The Wizard of Oz (has been since I was a child)

On my spare time I like to: I enjoy reading, running, and any activity that involves my family.

And here’s what Alexandria and her mom Natalie had to say about Mrs Hawkins:

What sets this teacher apart from others? Mrs. Hawkins stands apart in so many immeasurable ways. She leads her students with such class and charisma, really empowering them to want to do their best. I have not seen my daughter so inspired, so dedicated to her work before. Mrs. Hawkins uses rewards systems to help students achieve, to get them working harder than they think they can, achieving goals they didn’t think were possible. She is such an amazing teacher in the areas of math and reading (among others) that I’m astonished when I sit down with my 6-year old and listen to the chapter books she is now reading. She is not only reading with more fluidity, she is now a confident and excited reader. Mrs. Hawkins has instilled this excitement and really shown Alexandria how awesome the skill of reading truly is. Mrs. Hawkins utilizes the latest technology in the classroom to get her students engaged and excited, using programs like Google slides for the students to create presentations about topics they find interesting, (Alexandria chose squirrels). I’m amazed at the way she treats each student (and parent) with the same amount of attention and care. She keeps me informed of everything going on in the classroom and she loves to send texts to the parents to let them know what their child learned about that day and how to ask them about it. I’m amazed by her energy, her love for her profession, and her calm and gentle yet firm approach.

 

What is one thing this teacher does that is not in their job description but they do it anyway to help you or your child? Mrs. Hawkins is incredibly quick to communicate with all the parents of the students in her classroom. Her incredibly calm and soothing tone really sets the students at ease when they have a problem. She helps all students she comes in contact with, with any sort of problem they may have. I have seen her taking time in the hallways to talk with students, to dry their tears and reassure them she would find a solution to their problem. I’ve seen her personally stop and ask former students how they are, keeping the lines of communication open the entire time her students are at King school, not just when they are in her 1st grade class.

Give an example of a way this teacher has helped or impacted you or your child: My daughter was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of 2. After many surgeries and types of treatments failed to improve her hearing, Mrs. Hawkins placed Alexandria in the front of the room so she could read her lips and hear her while she taught. She also engaged my husband and I, as well as the pertinent staff at King Elementary, in getting Alexandria a 504, a plan which is personalized to her level of need in the classroom. Mrs. Hawkins led me to right people and resources to benefit Alexandria. Ultimately we were able to secure a grant to pay for Alexandria’s hearing aids and she was fitted with them this year. Mrs. Hawkins spoke with the students before Alexandria came in with them, explaining why she needed them and how excited Alexandria was. Alexandria has adjusted very well and Mrs. Hawkins has kept us informed every step of the way. She stayed late after school to sit with me so I could show her how the hearing aids work and how to care for them, and what to do if there are any problems with them. She has really given Alexandria an immense confidence, not only in the classroom but also in life in general. She has helped Alexandria feel comfortable being herself, and accepting her hearing loss, and compensating so she’s not struggling. She has helped Alexandria be the best that she can be, despite her hearing loss. We send Alexandria to school each day knowing that she is being challenged and supported academically, and socially, in a very warm, structured and secure environment, for any parent that is all you hope for for your child!