Nadine Lynch always knew she wanted to be a teacher. What she didn’t know when she went to work at St. Elmo Elementary School on Thursday was that she had been selected as Mobile County’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year.
“It was very overwhelming, so I was making sure I didn’t cry in front of everybody,” Lynch said after being surprised with the news Thursday by St. Elmo Principal Sondra Roberts, District 5 School Commissioner Dr. Bill Foster, MCPSS Director of Communication Rena Philips, and last year’s Alabama Elementary Teacher of the Year, Chasity Collier of Dawes Elementary. “It was an honor just to win the school (teacher of the year award), so the county is a lot.”
Lynch teaches fourth grade language arts at St. Elmo, where she’s taught since 2015. She taught third grade previously at Sand Ridge Elementary School in Hubert, N.C. Lynch said she’s always known teaching was her calling.
“I feel like a lot of teachers know when they’re little,” she said. “When I was little, my little sister was always my student, playing school.”
Lynch has made an impact in the short time she’s been at St. Elmo, collaborating with grade-level team members and administrators to develop inquiry-based lessons that encourage students to think critically, creating grade-level reading and math assessments to track her students’ progress, serving on her school’s digital literacy and Leader In Me action teams, and implementing a school-wide Student Advisory Survey program, which matches each student with an adult at the school who ensures that student feels safe, loved and supported.
“Nadine’s class is a safe haven for her students,” Roberts said. “She creates an environment where students feel comfortable to take risks, justify their thinking and collaborate in a respectful manner.”
Lynch said her biggest thrills as a teacher are still those moments where she can see her students grasping difficult concepts for the first time.
“I love the light-bulb moments, when they get something they’ve really been struggling with, and you see that in their face,” she said. “I love when they go to you first thing in the morning, because they know you’re going to be there to help them with something. Being there and that they know it – that’s what it’s all about.”
Lynch will be Mobile County Public Schools’ elementary nominee for the Alabama Teacher of the Year award to be announced later this spring. Mobile County’s Teacher of the Year for the secondary grades will be announced in the coming days.