Teaching With Hope

Gallup’s Most Hopeful Teacher in America talks about the role hope has played in her career.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” — Helen Keller

The Most Hopeful Teacher in America — I never imagined that my name would follow such a title. Growing up in a small Arkansas town, I was number 10 of 11 children. Little was required of me because I was the smallest, and my older siblings took care of everything. But when I entered 1st grade, my teacher, Mrs. Smith, told me that I was a Parker and that the Parker children knew how to work hard. She expected something from me. I finally had a purpose filled with hope.

During my 23 years in education, I have had the opportunity to share in spreading this hope to many students, thanks to another ripple of hope that started with a teacher’s selfless act during my first year of teaching. This ripple still carries forward today.

My first classroom was a combined 1st and 2nd grade. This class almost didn’t exist. I was the last person hired that school year. A staff reduction was occurring because of low enrollment. I was the teacher who would have to take an involuntary transfer. The principal, Dr. Kelly, called me into her office to give me the dreadful news. On my way back to pack, I stopped and told my mentor teacher, Mrs. Montague, that I would be leaving. She sat and listened to my situation very attentively and then told me that everything would work out. I couldn’t see how, but she reassured me that things would work out. I left to pack my just-unpacked classroom.

When students lose focus on their goals, we can help them refocus.

The next day I received a second request to appear before Dr. Kelly.

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