9th Grade Biology
Power Center Academy
Mrs. Reiss joins our list of finalists as a veteran educator, celebrated mentor and award winning teacher. She began working in the charter school community after 10 years with MCS at Kirby High School. As a Level 5 teacher, she has served in multiple teaching leadership roles, including a mentor teacher with the Memphis Teacher Residency program and Academy Dean for the Business and Human Services Smaller Learning Community. Along with her commitment to connecting real world concepts to classroom material, she is also dedicated to preparing her students for post-secondary education and employment. She continually looks for opportunities to further advance her students in the classroom and in their communities.
We are thrilled to have Mrs. Reiss as a finalist for our Teacher of the Year! In her first set of end of course exams at Power Center Academy her students have already excelled with 90% scoring proficient or advanced. There is no doubt that she will continue to provide an effective and exciting education for her students. Mrs. Reiss is continually improving to make the biggest and most positive impact in her classroom and in the community.
“Henry Adams correctly observed, ‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.’ This quotes best explains why I teach. Not only am I passionate about what I teach, I am also passionate about providing a stimulating learning environment in which all students can learn and excel to their full potential.”
6th Grade Math
Liberty College Academy
Originally from a suburb of Richmond, VA, Courtney graduated from Randolph-Macon College with a degree in French and Economics. Upon graduating, she began her career as a Teach for America corps member in Eastern North Carolina, where she taught 7th grade mathematics at Enfield Middle School for two years. In July of 2012, she made the 600-mile move to Nashville to join the staff of Liberty Collegiate Academy as a founding sixth grade math teacher.
LCA School Leader, Linda Lentz, refers to Ms. Hiltunen as a “born educator.” She loves the subject she teaches and passionately believes in its importance. Reflecting their teacher’s passion, you can find Ms. Hiltunen’s class embracing math nerdiness through conceptual understanding, investigative studies and problem’s-based learning. Scholars are not only performing highly on test scores, but they are continually building deep understanding so that they can be true math problem solvers!
In her application Ms. Hiltunen shares with us the joy she finds in her profession:
“It is the little moments that drive me forward, the daily wins that restore my faith in what is possible for children and make the tough days more than worth it. It’s the excitement that flashes across the face of a student who has figured out a new way to solve a problem. It’s the insightful questions from an eleven year-old that I myself hadn’t even considered. It’s the candid conversation between two shoulder partners who don’t know I am listening, one helping the other fix her mistakes. I teach for those little moments, now and in the future, that assure me this work is purposeful.“
9th Grade English
Power Center Academy
Ms. Clarke graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts majoring in Political Science and Africana Studies. Throughout her college career she spent much time focusing on theory over practice, which led her to seek more practical real world experiences after graduation. She understood that education was a fundamental right, but through her studies and personal experiences realized that a quality education was a privilege that many students did not have. With her passion for politics and motivation to meet these education challenges, Ms. Clarke joined Teach for America and began teaching at Power Center Academy.
At PCA you can find Ms. Clarke taking advantage of every instructional minute to ensure that her scholars are succeeding. She provides after school and Saturday tutoring sessions to provide even more opportunities for learning. In Ms. Clarke’s first year of teaching, 91% of her students performed proficient or advanced on their English I EOC. She has not only proven to be an effective teacher, but a devoted one. Whether attending her students’ sporting events, supporting extra-curricular activities or serving as a sponsor for the cheerleading team, Ms. Clarke makes it a priority to be involved inside and outside of the classroom. Her motivation and drive to continually provide the best education for students is truly inspiring! Congrats Ms. Clarke!
“I teach because it is my calling and my passion. I teach because it is difficult and complicated. I teach because it is both emotionally draining and soulfully fulfilling. And, at the end of each day, I teach because my students, my kids, my children, my sons and my daughters, my babies deserve the privilege of a great education from someone who loves them.”