Highland Primary School second-grade teacher Sheila Laird was named as an honoree for the annual Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award program.
“I do feel very honored to receive the award, and it is very nice to be recognized for all of my hard work,” Laird said.
Each year, more than 100 educators in the St. Louis metropolitan area are recognized by the program, which is sponsored by Emerson. These teachers can range from kindergarten teachers to college professors and are considered examples of excellence in education. The recipients are selected by chief administrators of their school districts or institutions.
Laird has been teaching for 25 years, 22 of those in second grade at Highland Primary.
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“I love teaching second grade every day is something different and new,” Laird said.
Korte said Laird is one of her most dedicated teachers. Korte said that Laird spends countless hours making new materials, researching new approaches for her lessons and getting ready for the her next day. She said Laird is always concerned about making the best use of educational time. She also represents teachers well, always looking and speaking professionally, according to Korte.
Korte said Laird has high expectations for every student in her classroom and that dedication can be seen in classroom results.
“Mrs. Laird’s students make excellent gains,” Korte said. “This is not surprising, because she has her class set goals regularly in many different subjects and track their own progress. This practice helps her students have more ownership in their achievement and produces even better growth.”
Korte also said that Laird is an innovative teacher who embraces new ideas. Laird was one of the first to use a Promethean Board, an interactive whiteboard that utilizes projected images and touch-action. Korte said Laird taught herself to design flip-charts for her lessons. She is also a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) trained teacher, and uses Legos and robotics to teacher her students new concepts. Korte said Laird recently started integrating breakout games, which encourage students to use critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication to get out of a sticky situation.
“Every day is fun. I try to find new things to do with them with technology, with science, which is my favorite thing to teach. I really love how they come in excited to learn everyday,” Laird said.
Korte said Laird’s engagement goes beyond her classroom.
“Mrs. Laird is a team player and a leader within her grade level. She can be counted on to step up when something needs to be done,” Korte said.
Korte said Laird is the lead teacher for her grade level and is continuously doing things that benefit others at Highland Primary. Laird has also made presentations for the school’s new math series and shared them with her grade level. Korte said Laird has been a key part in designing the assessments for the math portion of second grade’s standard based report card. But Laird said that she is just one piece in a larger picture of excellence.
“All the teachers I work with are outstanding. They all could have won the award,” Laird said.
However, Korte said what makes Laird stand out is her passion for teaching, which is evident in everything she does.
“They give me notes, poems, smiles that just melt my heart. And I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Laird.