Brittany Sears has been recognized as the 2019-2020 DeKalb County VFW Teacher of the Year in the elementary category.
Sears is a first grade teacher at Crossville Elementary School. She spends her days in a self-contained classroom teaching English, language arts, math, science, and social studies to her students.
Sears has been at Crossville Elementary School for the five years she has been teaching. Sears did not enter the contest herself. Instead, she was nominated by the administrators at CES.
Crossville Assistant Principal Eric Bryant said Sears is deserving of the award because, in the five years she has been at CES, she has been a positive influence on the students she has taught.
“Mrs. Sears is a phenomenal educator that pours her heart and soul into her classroom every day,” Bryant said. “She cares deeply about her students and she develops meaningful relationships with all of them. She believes that all students can learn and she sets high expectations for all of her students.”
Sears said her role as a teacher is one she felt a calling for during her first year of college.
She said a love for high school basketball initially sparked the idea of wanting to coach, which fueled her desire to teach.
“I decided I wanted to be a teacher after about one semester in college,” she said. “I loved my time as a basketball player when I was in high school, and I truly believed that I wanted to continue working with the sport as a coach. However, being a coach is not something that I have done at this time. After taking a few education classes, I felt the pull into elementary education rather than secondary education.”
Sears said when she started taking elementary education classes, it became evident that she was in her calling.
“Once I began those classes, I fell in love with elementary education and couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” she said.
Bryant said Sears has many qualities that make her deserving of the VFW Teacher of the Year award.
“She is so eager to grow professionally, and she understands the importance of evolving her teaching methods, as the needs of students change from year to year,” he said. “She is always searching for new ideas and strategies that will hone her skills and enable her to improve the learning experiences of her students.”
Bryant said Sears has a gift that reaches beyond the walls of her classroom.
“She is part of our school leadership team and she is well respected by her peers,” he said. “Mrs. Sears is definitely an asset to our school, to say the least.”
Sears said teaching doesn’t feel like a job to her. She said, instead, each day it is an opportunity to celebrate learning.
“I love so many things about what I do,” she said. “I love the moments when my students finally comprehend what we are learning. Being able to see that light go on for my class is one of the greatest parts of my job. The excitement that they have when they are finally able to make sense of the material is truly an amazing thing to see.”
Bryant said Crossville Elementary School has a goal that is focused on “empowering students to become citizens who are responsible, productive and continuously engaged in a life that is both meaningful and successful.”
“An axiom that we go by at Crossville Elementary School is ‘Chasing Dreams. Embracing Differences. Striving for Success.’ We have many unique challenges at our school, but our teachers embrace and embody our school’s vision,” he said. “We are positively shaping the lives of young ones because of it.”
Bryant said Sears receiving the award of DeKalb County VFW Teacher of the Year “is a testament to the great things we have going on here at CES.”
“We have many outstanding teachers in our building and to have one recognized in this way is truly an honor,” he said.
Sears said once she moved to the district portion of the competition, she was required to submit a resume, a philosophy of education paper, a headshot and images of her teaching. She said when she learned she had won; she was “speechless.”
“I feel that my school and our county, as a whole, has so many amazing teachers,” she said. “To know that my administrators and the VFW felt that I was worthy of this recognition was truly one of the greatest moments of my career. I love teaching so much, and I have had so many amazing mentors, colleagues and administrators that have truly helped shape and motivate me to be the teacher I am. I could not have become what I am without all their help and support. I am so grateful and honored to have been chosen for this award.”
Sears said if her students left her class knowing one thing, she would want them to know that they all have the ability to be successful.
“As a teacher, I naturally hope that my students build their reading and math skills while in my classroom,” she said. “However, more than that, I hope that all my students leave my room knowing that they have someone who believes in them and their ability to succeed.
“There are days as an educator when you have students who come into your room needing love and security. I hope that all my students know that I am there for them. They are the whole reason behind what I do every day. I hope to help them grow, learn and succeed. But more than that, I hope I can help them develop a self confidence that allows them to see how great each and every one of them can be. This is a feeling that continues even after they leave my room. Some of my greatest moments have involved past students coming back to me to share their success and achievements.”
Sears will be moving on to the district and potentially state level VFW Teacher of the Year programs.