2017 WSFCS Magnet Teacher of the Year

I, Amanda A Gordon, was named the 2nd Annual Magnet Teacher of the year for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools for 2017-2018. The Magnet Office held a competition for a local Magnet School Teacher and Principal of the Year. The applicants must apply using the national Magnet Schools of America criteria based on the pillars of Equity & Diversity, Innovative Programming, Academic Excellence, and Family & Community Partnerships. The applications are scored based on the national rubric. 

In his letter supporting my nomination, Principal Ted Burcaw wrote: 

“We are proud of Mrs. Gordon’s outstanding contribution to the arts through excellent teaching and leadership both within and outside of the Diggs-Latham community. She is a fierce advocate for the arts and for the elevation of education through the arts. I believe her credentials, experience, and practice position her as worthy of considering for the Magnet Teacher of the Year Award.”

In his letter, Assistant Principal Olsen wrote:

“She combines a passion for Art with a dedication to provide Art based experiences and memories to our students through teaching.  In the classroom, Mrs. Gordon uses her education, training, and national board certification to create lessons that bring Art alive.  Her classroom invites creativity and imagination as you step in.  Students are excited and full of energy to learn art techniques that will help them create beautiful projects and Art work.  Her classroom is an environment that promotes Art through a variety of media like technology, nature, and even clay that students can learn about to express their creativity.”

I earned the opportunity to travel and attend the Magnet Schools of America national conference, which was held the last week of April in Los Angeles, California. I attended the conference along with Magnet Director, Kim Marion, and district Magnet Principal of the Year, Leslie Alexander.  

I have been teaching since 2004, all at Latham and then Diggs-Latham Elementary School.  I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a teaching license.  I am a National Board Certified Teacher, was the NC A+ Schools Teacher of the Year 2016 and the WS/FC Arts Council Teacher of the Year 2016-2017.

I am a mentor, teacher leader, school yearbook editor, Black History Month Chairperson, manager of the art and school twitter account, and arts council representative.  My students and I have won numerous ribbons for art work and displays at local fairs and exhibits; I have also received several grants for classroom supplies, books, and equipment.  I promote our Magnet pillars and theme by connecting with the community.  I am very active in the local arts council and in my church.  I invited community members, business leaders and others into the school, especially for my annual Black History Month Celebration that embraces unity and respect for all.  I promote integration between the Arts Team and classroom teachers.  All of my personal unit and lesson plans incorporate objectives across the curriculum and show multiple points of differentiation and integration.  

Attending the National Magnet Conference was a wonderful experience.  It was my first visit to the state of California.  I networked with educators from all over the U.S.  I met two of the real-life "Freedom Writers," who were part of the actual classroom that the movie was based on. In the movie, a new teacher connects with her students who are more than challenged by their home circumstances but who find a way to cope through writing about it.

I collected all kinds of supply samples, information, and handouts that will be useful in my school and classroom.  I attended sessions and workshops, including one with "Living Rhythm," a group that teaches African drumming integrated into the curriculum and who are actually from Winston-Salem.  On a couple evenings, we had free time to go out for dinner.  I explored the area around Los Angeles, including Santa Monica Pier, Long Beach, and Hollywood. Since the conference was just minutes away from Hollywood Boulevard, many Hollywood themes were incorporated into the conference handouts and set up.