Jolly Elementary School, Dekalb County Schools, GA
2020 Teacher of the Year – Southeast
From the moment Out Teach’s instructional coach, Jarri Goodman, walked into Ms. Cory’s kindergarten classroom her love and passion for educating students was undeniable. Ms. Cory’s learning environment can be described as a culture of accountability and encouragement. Students feel comfortable around each other. That comfort allows each student to make mistakes without fear of ridicule. It also allows students to redirect each other in a supportive manner. During one of Jarri’s coaching sessions, he witnessed one student correct another student’s misbehavior. The correction was given and received so positively that it wasn’t necessary for Ms. Cory to intervene. That is a testament to the supportive climate Ms. Cory cultivates in her classroom. She characterizes herself as an empathetic teacher, and empathy permeates her classroom. Her empathy with her students stems from the challenges she faced when learning new content in school as a child. Her personal learning experiences motivate her to teach content using multiple strategies that address the different learning styles and needs of her students. Ms. Cory is curious by nature and that is evident in her instructional practice. She encourages her students to ask questions and facilitates their learning as they explore answers.
Ms. Cory joined the Out Teach cohort this year with the goal of strategically incorporating outdoor learning in her lessons. After 19 years of formally educating students, she continues to eagerly seek new methodologies that support student achievement. Out Teach merged Ms. Cory’s lifelong passion for teaching and nature.
“I always knew I wanted to teach. When I was little if you asked me what I wanted to be, I always said a teacher and a momma. When I was attending college and had to declare my major, I actually wanted to be a park ranger. That way I could still teach but be outdoors- teaching hands on history and science to people.Out Teach helped me bring my love of Science more to life for my students.”
One memorable moment for Ms. Corey was hearing a student who is learning English as a second language explain how a rain gauge worked and suggest a location to place one. That was significant because the student was hesitant to speak English aloud and participate in class in the beginning of the school year. There is little doubt that Ms. Corey’s supportive classroom culture and Out Teach’s engaging outdoor lessons contributed to his confidence.