Photo left to right: Chief Academic Officer Beth Mims, RMS Principal Michele Yeomans, Laura Hume, RMS Assistant Principal Shannon Smith, Superintendent Bobby Pearce
Photo by Rhonda Stevens
Riversprings Middle School teacher Laura Hume was announced by Wakulla County Superintendent Bobby Pearce as the 2016 Wakulla County Teacher of the Year on February 1, 2016. Riversprings Principal Michele Yeomans, Assistant Principal Shannon Smith, plus students and coworkers were on hand to cheer for her as she received flowers, candy and balloons.
She will now go on to compete with the other 71 District Teachers of the Year for Regional and then State Teacher of the Year. In July, all school districts’ Teachers of the Year will be honored at this Florida Department of Education-Macy’s sponsored program in Orlando.
Hume earned dual bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and in ESE (Exceptional Student Education) grades kindergarten-12, plus holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) k-12 certification. This is her twelfth year of teaching and she currently teaches science and math to sixth grade students.
She believes that “Effective teaching begins with student engagement and ends with a community of learners. To achieve this level, the effective teacher needs to embrace student diversity by carefully structuring lessons, challenging her students in a safe environment, and not being afraid to step back and let the students share the teaching and learning.”
Some of the ways she has expanded her teaching skills include attending AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Summer Institutes in Critical Reading and in Science; Kagan Cooperative Learning for Administrators; plus attending the ESE Institute on behavior management strategies for working with a diverse student population.
Hume enjoys these hands-on trainings because they are student-centered and team-oriented. She explains that on a daily basis, “You might see students working on a science lab, completing artwork or sharing their visuals by utilizing the technology available in our classroom.”
A true life-long learner herself, Hume has sought out ways to bring her love of science and math to her students. As part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s “Teachers in Space” program, she attended a summer “Zero Gravity Space Flight” simulation training, plus she further joined NASA’s Education Partnership to bring actual moon rocks and meteors for student viewing after arranging heavy security for these national treasures.
“There isn’t anything she wouldn’t do to help every child in her classes achieve,” notes RMS Principal Michele Yeomans. “I have seen her during her lunchtime tutoring students who are homeless with attendance issues and students who use misbehavior to mask their lack of basic math skills. Without her insight into the causes of their struggles in the classroom, they would not be working on grade level as they are today.”
Hume is also a Mentor Teacher, Team Leader, and coaches one of the RMS Odyssey of the Mind teams. She says, “The most rewarding thing I have done as a teacher-leader was to bring the Odyssey of the Mind program to Riversprings Middle School. In our complex world of academics and assessments, I saw a need for something a little different. There were students who were intelligent yet needed something to tie them to middle school. I had watched the program start at Riversink Elementary School and thought, why not?”
Odyssey of the Mind is an international competition based on team projects and problem-solving “outside of the box”. Now every Wakulla public school has one or two Odyssey of the Mind teams.
Hume also taught at Crawfordville Elementary and Riversink Elementary, where she was selected Riversink Elementary’s Teacher of the Year for 2011.
States Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “Laura Hume is a great example of a teacher who knows her subject areas well, but understands that engaging and understanding her students are the keys to getting them to love science and math as much as she does. She will be an important representative for all of the excellent teachers in our school district.”
School Level Teachers of the Year were selected by their peers at their schools, and then went on to apply for the district title. An experienced panel of educators scored written packets and rated interviews where all candidates had the same questions asked of them. Eight candidates represented their schools as School Level Teachers of the Year.
The other seven outstanding School Level Teachers of the Year for 2016 are: Karla Nelson representing Sopchoppy and Wakulla Education Centers; Kelly Willis for Crawfordville Elementary; Jennifer Anderson for Medart Elementary; Jennifer Williams for Riversink Elementary; Jennifer Redfern for Shadeville Elementary; William Peck for Wakulla Middle; and James Vernon for Wakulla High School.
These representatives and all Wakulla County teachers will be honored at a celebration on March 21, 2016.