PCES Teacher of the Year
One of my most influential professors, the late Dr. Cliff Schimmels, told a college classroom full of bright-eyed, eager, and somewhat naive future teachers, “The public school classroom is the largest mission field you will ever enter.” I did not fully grasp the truth of this statement until after several years of teaching. With eighteen years in the books, I am seeing how right he was.
The public school system has my heart for many reasons, but most importantly, teachers are called on each day to be light. The light of hope, the light of revelation, and some days, simply just light in the darkness for our students.
Before coming to Pike I taught for several years at Peeples Elementary School in Fayetteville Georgia. For the past ten years, I have had the honor of teaching at Pike County Elementary School. Tammy Bell was my principal when I first arrived and was so kind and gracious as I adjusted to a new county with different demands. I learned and took advice from seasoned master teachers like Rosemary Carter, Kay Dean, and more. I have developed close relationships with colleagues that will be life-long. Throughout the years it has been a complete joy to walk alongside dedicated and compassionate educators. We have had the privilege to pray together during dark hours when our PCES faculty and staff were hurting and in need of miracles. This shows that not only students need the light of hope, but the adults walking the halls do as well.
The greatest honor as an educator is knowing that HE gave me the desire to be a teacher and now it is a ministry that has changed my life. Some of my students might need a little extra help in reading, but all need to see themselves as capable, worthy, and important. This has been whether I was in a fifth grade classroom for many years, or my EIP classroom for the last five. No matter the setting or design of the room, make-up, or need, it is still a blessing.
Doing life with my students is what fuels me each day. I would love to go back and change some things over my teaching career. Maybe select different words, take a few more seconds to listen to their hearts, put down the schedule, and hug a little more often. I am grateful that each day brings a new opportunity to let the love of Jesus shine as the students and I strengthen and steady their academic needs.
This honor is humbling and I am grateful beyond words. No one gets anywhere alone. From Gordon State University, Lee University, and Southeastern University, I have been touched by countless professors. Leaders and principals like Sandra Watson, Kevin Huffstetler, and Dr. Melissa Smith have been supportive and yet at the same time, honest so I could grow and learn. I have been blessed with Godly women all throughout my life who have mentored me. My husband, parents, kids, and close family have always supported me through prayer, mentoring students, buying supplies, and endless stapling and cutting. I am surrounded by some amazingly dedicated women and men who pour their lives into elementary students each day. My students are one of the greatest blessings in my life! They are the ones who fill my heart. May they say that I loved them above their test scores, progress monitoring, or how they performed. Their understanding of this will be my greatest accomplishment in teaching.
Lori Dailey Gilreath