“I wanted to change the world.”
That was Courtney Lewis’ simple and to-the-point response when we asked what made her want to be an educator. Earlier this spring, Courtney was selected as Edmentum’s Educator of the Year, and a few weeks ago, we had the chance to chat with her about all things education – the challenges, the triumphs, her take on edtech, and what first inspired her to become a teacher.
“We have an entire generation growing up right now that I want to inspire. They will be taking on the world, our world, and I want to be a part of that,” Courtney told us. If that isn’t worthy motivation, we don’t know what is.
This year was Courtney’s fourth year in the classroom full-time. Before getting her own classroom, Courtney substitute taught for three years and earned her master’s degree in Curriculum Instruction with an emphasis in English as a Second Language (ESOL). It’s safe to say her time in education has already allowed her to play a part in “changing the world.” Thanks in part to her innovative approach to introducing technology in the classroom at Sayre Elementary School in rural Oklahoma, where Courtney teaches 3rd grade, the school has gone from a C- school to an A+ school. Study Island has had a pivotal role in this accomplishment.
“We use Study Island in our classroom four days a week for 45 minutes each [day]. Technology is a big part of how my classroom runs day to day,” explained Courtney. In addition to a set of eight Chromebooks in her classroom, Courtney also utilizes her school’s computer lab, her smartboard, and the shared Chromebook cart. Immersing her students in technology has helped create a daily routine that makes center time, one-on-one interactions, and transitions in the classroom easy to juggle. Not only does technology help individualize each student’s education, but it also helps Courtney with managing her classroom and keeping her students engaged in learning. “My students are excited to use the technology each day. The bright colors, sound effects, and entertaining graphics keep them focused on the learning,” she stated.
Listening to Courtney describe her technology-rich classroom, we wondered—how did she come to be the edtech expert she is today?
“Start slow,” she advised. “Get comfortable on your own first, before any sort of [technology] implementation. And, don’t be afraid to watch other educators around you.”
Courtney’s dedication to technology does not go unnoticed, either. In nominating her for Edmentum’s Educator of the Year Award, Courtney’s District Curriculum Coordinator, Andrea Dickson, described her as a go-getter who is consistently seeking out new professional development opportunities, often involving classroom technology. She strives to stay up to date with advances in edtech, and it shows through in her students’ success using these tools.
So, what’s Courtney’s advice to new teachers on successfully surviving those intimidating first few years in the classroom?
“Breathe. Find a teaching style that fits your personality, and make it yours. Listen to your students’ needs, and most importantly, have fun,” she advised.
Please join us as we extend big congratulations to Edmentum’s Educator of the Year, Courtney Lewis! We’re confident she’ll be using her caring, passion, and love of technology to encourage and inspire her students’ learning for years to come. Thanks for your outstanding work, Courtney—keep it up!
Want to learn more about Edmentum’s Educator of the Year Award and our other Inspirational Educator honorees? Take a look at this blog post, and check back for profiles on all of our winners in the coming weeks!