As Alexis Eaton, a fourth grade teacher at James Craik Elementary, spends most of her free time helping her students or looking for ways to improve her instruction, her dedication to the classroom and passion for education has not gone unnoticed.
She shared last week with Southern Maryland News she decided to go to school to become a teacher when her son was six weeks old, wanting to provide a good life for her family and have the ability to instill the importance of learning into her kids.
A little over a decade later, the teacher’s ambitions led her to securing the title of Charles County teacher of the year.
“I always loved working with kids, even when I was young,” she said. “By far my favorite thing about teaching is the kids … we have fun learning and the ideas they have and the connections they make are incredible.”
She said watching her students grow is “very fulfilling” and their successes are what keeps her working as hard as she does.
While the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools for almost a year, Eaton claimed virtual instruction opened “a whole new world” for her. Constantly finding new resources, holding extra meetings with struggling students and keeping kids engaged through educational games, she said in her experience, it “went pretty well. … I try to be as creative as I can whenever I can.”
Having the kids back in the building is “wonderful,” she said, as all Charles County students had the opportunity to return to school for hybrid instruction April 19.
“The students keep saying how happy they are to be back,” Eaton noted. “Even with mask-wearing and social distancing” procedures in place, the kids are doing great.
When Eaton heard she had been named the county teacher of the year, she claimed she was “just in total shock.”
“I know I work really really hard, but I also work with and know so many incredible educators in this county. … It’s humbling in a lot of ways and incredible,” she said, adding, she wouldn’t be as successful in her classroom as she is without her grade-level team.
“Ms. Eaton is energetic, positive and an advocate for her students,” Michelle Beckwith, principal of Craik Elementary said. “She goes the extra mile to provide support for her students.”
The principal mentioned Eaton “gives up a lot of her personal time” working with before and after school programs and is a “team leader who is a part of decision-making at the school.”
When it came to virtual instruction and learning, Beckwith said from the very beginning, Eaton was figuring out the technology on her own, watching webinars and rewatching her virtual lessons, to find ways she could improve everyday.
“She’s a problem-solver, always figuring out what is best for her students,” she said. “She also created a collaboration group of fourth grade teachers so they can brainstorm and share ideas.”
Marissa Ackerman, another Craik Elementary teacher, said this week “nobody works as hard as Alexis … people don’t realize everything she does for students.”
Ackerman said Eaton “pours herself into the world of education,” calling her work “very inspirational.”
“She’s very understanding and makes sure the students are accepted as who they are,” she claimed. Eaton “has a way that reaches every student. … She’s one of the most selfless people I have ever met and it really is a pleasure to work with her.”