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April 08, 2021
When you think about school, your mind probably jumps to homework, late-night studying, pop quizzes, hard tests, beloved recess, and ACT and SAT prep. But do you ever think about the teachers that made an impact on your life?
Undoubtedly, teachers play a pivotal role in your development. In school, they're responsible for educating and guiding the next generation of leaders. Sometimes, they do this poorly. But, oftentimes, they do this exceptionally well.
A great teacher knows how to instill confidence, become great mentors, give fresh advice, and help you discover what you want to do in life. When you find these kinds of teachers, it's important to highlight them for all of their accomplishments.
Doing a teacher spotlight is one of the best ways to acknowledge teachers that are positively leading tomorrow's leaders. And in countries like Eswatini, where many schools don't have resources to provide a great education, teacher spotlights offer an excellent way to recognize those who are still doing what they can to make a positive impact.
The characteristics of great teachers
Before doing a teacher spotlight, it's essential to know some of the characteristics that make a teacher great. As mentioned above, some teachers don't provide the positive influence that they should. However, the ones that do usually share several qualities.
Teaching is not easy. In fact, RAND Corporation released data from a survey of 1,000 former public school teachers. Based on the numbers, 43 percent of teachers voluntarily quit before their scheduled retirement because of stress and disappointments.
Given the challenges, teachers must love children and learning if they want to succeed. This requirement is especially true if they're going to be great teachers. Those who positively impact students' lives usually have a deep-rooted love for children and learning that helps alleviate their stress.
Most people know that everyone learns at a different pace. And fortunately, great teachers also understand this fact and have the compassion to help every student, no matter where they are on their journey.
A teacher who's compassionate won't leave any student behind or become frustrated when a child isn't picking up something quickly. Instead, a great teacher will sit with a child and patiently go over a concept until it starts to make sense.
If a teacher doesn't put in the effort, their students won't either. A great teacher knows how important it is to show up to class excited, motivated, and ready to go.
This kind of attitude allows students to see how much their teachers care. And when a child knows their teacher has their best interest in mind, they'll work harder and develop the same dedication to their education.
It's critical for teachers to understand their students' backgrounds, especially if they want to relate to them and motivate them in significant ways.
For example, in Eswatini, most Swazis face poverty, hunger, orphanhood, and a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. As a result, many Swazi students have backgrounds full of challenges, loss, and pain.
But great teachers understand their students' struggles and abilities and take that into account in the classroom. Instead of being judgemental, great teachers will empathize with their students at all times.
Students are always looking to their teachers as examples, and great teachers strive to be good ones. Most teachers know their students soak up everything they say and do, so they strive to be good role models in and outside of the classroom.
Typically, a teacher's job happens face-to-face and requires verbal communication. And at school, teachers don't just communicate with students. They also have to communicate with other staff members and parents.
A great teacher will know how to resonate well with every student, colleague, and parent. They'll know how to communicate lessons to each child to increase understanding and how to talk to staff and parents about their students' development.
Teacher Spotlight from Project Canaan Academy
Eswatini is home to many great teachers, and some of them work at Project Canaan Academy. Created by Heart for Africa, this school is on a 2,500-acre farm that includes homes for children who've joined Heart for Africa's family.
These children attend Project Canaan Academy and get an opportunity to have an excellent education, a privilege many kids in Eswatini don't experience. To ensure the school has everything it needs, Khutsala Artisans gives all of its profits to Heart for Africa, who uses the money to help support Project Canaan Academy.
But it's the teachers who also play a significant role in making Project Canaan Academy a success. While all of the teachers at the school are amazing, this teacher spotlight walks through a handful.
1) Head Teacher, Amber VanWinkle
Amber VanWinkle is the Head Teacher at Project Canaan Academy. She's been serving with Heart for Africa since 2013 and is excited to help offer a good education to every student at the school.
As the Head Teacher, Amber focuses on her students' development and hiring Swazi teachers who will make a positive difference in each child's life. She truly believes that God has a plan for all of her students and thinks the fantastic teachers at Project Canaan Academy are helping each child walk into the purpose that God has for them.
2) Kindergarten Teacher, Bongiwe
A teacher at Project Canaan Academy since 2016, Bongiwe has become a consistent figure in her students' lives. She enjoys teaching because she loves kids, and her job provides an opportunity to give her undying love and expand childrens' IQ.
Bongiwe loves working at Project Canaan Academy because it's a Christian school. And she's excited to help raise the next generation of leaders in Eswatini.
3) Third Grade Teacher, Celestine
Celestine is a third-grade teacher at Project Canaan Academy. She's been at the school for about two years, and her students absolutely love her. With a passion for education, Celestine can't imagine herself doing anything else. She believes teaching is her purpose.
She understands that as a teacher, she is a "mentor, educator, role model, and parent." But instead of shrinking back from her responsibilities, Celestine embraces them. She loves knowing that she's teaching the future leaders of Eswatini.
4) Second Grade Teacher, Mihle
Currently teaching second grade, Mihle is an amazing teacher at Project Canaan Academy and has been at the school for about two years.
Mihle enjoys teaching because he "loves working with the kids" and likes to know that he can "make a difference in students' lives both in and outside school."
He's truly passionate about seeing his students grow. And Mihle loves that Project Canaan Academy puts God first in everything and believes in making teaching fun.
5) Special Needs Teacher, Faith
Faith is an outstanding Special Needs teacher at Project Canaan Academy. She's been at the school for about two years, and she's passionate about helping children learn and grow.
Dedicated to teaching from the heart, Faith takes time to understand her kids and teaches according to their strengths and abilities. She loves to instill confidence in her students and considers her job at Project Canaan Academy as a fulfilled dream.
6) Special Needs Teacher, Pinky
Pinky is another fantastic Special Needs teacher at Project Canaan Academy. She teaches preschool and preK and has been teaching at the school for about four years.
One of the things that she loves most about Project Canaan Academy is that children learn how to love other people and God. The curriculum focuses on helping kids grow in all areas of life, and she loves "watching kids learn in their different ways" and getting "an opportunity to learn from kids."
Making education a priority
At Project Canaan Academy, teachers are making education a top priority by pouring into every student that walks into their classroom. But if you want to play a part in supporting Project Canaan Academy's mission, shop at Khutsala Artisans.
By purchasing home decor or jewelry, you'll help provide the financial resources that Project Canaan Academy needs to teach its students. And with your support, the school will continue to guide the next generation of leaders that will positively impact Eswatini.
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