Golden Apple award winner works to instill self-confidence in her 4th graders

By: Meredith TerHaar Email
By: Meredith TerHaar Email

Panama City - This week's Golden Apple award-winning teacher is Jan Dykes, a 4th grade teacher at Tyndall Elementary School.

Spend just a few minutes in Mrs. Dykes' class and you'll understand why her students think she is so special. They start their day, everyday, with a pledge she wrote. "I am a great reader, writer, and thinker. I speak the language of numbers. Today I will learn and I will help others to learn and I will feel proud because I am doing my very best," recites Mrs. Dykes.

In Mrs. Dykes' 4th grade class, every day is a new opportunity to soar to new heights in math and science and explore new worlds through reading. "She encourages us to go beyond our limits, she makes her lessons fun and exciting," said Sehyun, a student in her class. "she encourages us to read more and study hard," said Gabrielle, another student.

Students say her love for reading and writing is contagious. Michael, the student who nominated her, said "She makes writing so fun. I even started writing a book at my house." "She is an avid reader and she brings that love of reading to the classroom. She wants all of them to feel about books the way she does," said Tyndall Elementary School Principal Libbie Pippin.

A fractions, decimals, and percentages number line is just one way she helps her students get a deeper conceptual understanding of math. "The more we can introduce games and problem solving the greater their understanding is," said Mrs. Dykes.

Their marble jar is another example of a unique motivater. Whenever we've heard any of our vocabulary words that we've had at any time during the year when we are reading, speaking, or in their writing, the kids notice it and we put a marble in a marble jar." When the jar is full, they celebrate.

Fostering self-confidence in her students is another one of Mrs. Dykes' priorities. "To help them realize what their talents are, I think that is the greatest thing I could ever do is because when they leave this classroom and feel like "I am a great reader, I am a great writer or I am able to solve problems," that is going to last beyond this year. It's not about me making it fun, it's about how great they are at doing things. That will last beyond this classroom beyond school and throughout their lifetimes."

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