And then there were four — and Dawes Intermediate fifth-grade teacher Chasity Collier is one of them.
Named Mobile County’s Elementary Teacher of the Year in January and the state’s District I Elementary Teacher of the Year in April, Collier has now been selected as one of the four finalists for the 2017-18 Alabama Teacher of the Year award.
The other finalists are Charlotte D. Hartley of Montana Street Magnet School in Dothan, Emily S. Sassano of Benjamin Russell High in Alexander City, and Robert Paul McEwan of Hoover High. The finalists will now go through an extensive interview with the state judging committee and the Teacher of the Year will be revealed on May 10 at a ceremony hosted by the Alabama State Board of Education and the Alabama State Department of Education at the RSA Plaza Terrace in Montgomery.
Alabama’s Teacher of the Year spends the majority of the school year serving as a spokesperson for education and the teaching profession, as well as presenting workshops to various groups. The winner will also be a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award.
Shortly after entering the profession in 1998, Collier had second thoughts and was challenged by her mother: “Are you enjoying what you are doing? If you are not, your students are not.”
Collier took this advice to heart and made it her mission to find strategies to make learning more engaging and relevant to the lives her students. She took a seven-year hiatus from the classroom to work as an Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) coach before returning to the classroom at Dawes Intermediate in 2015.
Dawes Principal Michele McClung described Collier as a “resourceful, creative, energetic, happy and passionate teacher who is innovative with her lessons while promoting student engagement, relevance, and rigor at a depth that is superior.”
Collier, who has also taught at Hankins Middle and Florence Howard Elementary, has served on district-wide textbook adoption committees, and has trained other teachers throughout Alabama and Florida in best practices. She is also a state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science and she helped her school receive a Lighthouse Blue Ribbon.
Collier says the two most important days in someone’s life are the days they’re born and the day they realize why they’re here. Her “why” is to teach.
“I love coming to work,” she said. “I love what I get to do every single day and I love these kids.”
That enthusiasm is being passed on to her students. Fifth-grader Will Wallace said: “If I ever win an award for being a scientist and I am on TV, I am going to say I owe it all to Ms. Collier.”