Elementary Teacher of the Year for the district

Brenda Meyer, our current Elementary Teacher of the Year for the district
Posted on 09/19/2018
Brenda Meyer, our current Elementary Teacher of the Year for the district

‘She makes each kid feel special’

Teacher of Year says trust is key to a great classroom


By Toni Garrard Clay

AISD Communications Coordinator


If you walk into Brenda Meyer’s classroom at Central Athens Elementary, you might find yourself in Candyland or in an “escape room” or under blacklights. Her students adore the room transformations so much, they hardly notice they’re learning new math concepts or reading comprehension skills — and the children aren’t the only ones having a good time.


“I love it,” said Meyer, the corners of her eyes crinkling with a smile. “My motto in the room is work hard; play hard. I build relationships with my students to make them want to do the work. But they’re kids, and they need the play part in order to be more enthusiastic about the work part.”


Meyer, who currently holds the distinction of being Athens ISD’s Elementary Teacher of the Year, is in her 32nd year as an educator. She believes she’s at the top of her game since joining the Central Athens campus, where she currently teaches a self-contained third-grade class.


“Coming to Athens has helped me grow as a teacher,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot of different ways to connect with kids. … You have to build relationships with students to be able to teach them. They have to trust you. If they don’t think you care, they don’t care to please you or listen to you.”


Kensley Traxson, now a fifth-grader at Central, describes her former teacher as a great listener.


“When we would give her ideas, she would put them into action,” said Kensley. “We gave her an idea about a math race, and the next day when we came to school, she had it set up.” But even more importantly, Kensley added, “she makes each kid in the classroom feel special.”


Asked what has changed the most in her 32 years as a teacher, Meyer cites the classroom environment.


“When I first started, we all taught with a textbook and followed it; everyone was in their seat; kids didn’t get up and move around,” she said. “Now it’s more engaging. They’re moving; they’re learning from each other as well as the teacher.”


In fact, Meyer noted, students often learn from one another better than from their teacher.


“I’ve seen this lots of times,” she said. “We’re working on a math concept, I give them a problem, and they have to help and coach one another. … Then I’ll hear, ‘Oh, now I understand!’ A lot of times they understand better when it comes from another child in their own words.”


Central Athens Elementary Principal Shannon Pursley describes Meyer as a source of encouragement and kindness for her students and peers alike.


“She enjoys creating magic in her classroom,” said Pursley, “When there's a new teacher on campus, she reaches out to them and offers resources and friendship. She is kind and thoughtful to everyone she meets.”


For her part, Meyer said she considers it a compliment anytime she’s asked to share ideas.


“I enjoy it,” she said. “I have grown as a teacher since I’ve been in Athens. I feel like they let me do what I need to do for the kids.”

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