By Todd Travis
Educator of the Year award
Educators play a vital role in our community as they help equip our children to become the leaders of tomorrow. They are known to put in countless hours of dedicated service as they plan, prepare and teach throughout the school year (and even into the summer). While all educators deserve to be recognized, Alison Scott has been chosen to be specially recognized as this year’s Educator of the Year. She has been teaching in Perry Township for 18 years. According to the school nomination, “Miss Scott goes above and beyond each day to meet the needs of her students. She puts in countless hours and effort to plan the most impactful instruction for the varied needs of her class. Alison has the ability to interact in a positive way with all students and staff members, and her collaborative efforts make Homecroft Kindergarten Academy a better place for students!”
Becoming a teacher
Scott talks about her love for school and what led her into education as a career. “I can’t pinpoint one specific thing that inspired me to become a teacher. Growing up I always loved school. I loved the ‘feeling’ of school and I loved being there. I loved how my new crayons smelled, I loved the feel of my new textbooks, I loved the sound of my teacher’s heels as she walked around our room. I was never the smartest kid in the class, but I was really good at being a student,” she recalled. She admits that she fell into education through her love of school and involvement with the different programs she participated in. “Throughout my life I loved school and tried to be as involved with as many things as time would allow. I always had a deep respect and admiration for my teachers and, I think, I can still name everyone, kindergarten through high school. At the time I didn’t realize it as much as I do now the long-lasting impact each of them had on me,” she remembered.
In junior high, Scott started babysitting and working in the “Baby Room” at church. In high school, she worked with elementary students in cheerleading clinics, theatre and the DARE program. “I always had a love for children,” she stated. While she had planned to train to be a child life specialist in college, the program was not offered. Her counselor suggested she try early childhood education instead. She followed this advice which eventually led her to expand to elementary education with a K endorsement and a reading minor. “I have been lucky to have had opportunities present themselves to further my training in the field of education with an emphasis on early literacy education,” she remarked.
Not everything was smooth for Scott in her teaching career. After two years of teaching she faced a crossroads and felt she might quit teaching altogether. “Without going into all the details, I was basically told that I wasn’t good enough to be a teacher. That, and a few other comments, were the nail in the coffin of my career continuing in that school system and, also, almost the end of my career entirely. The power of words!” she shared. Just as she felt she had made the decision to quit teaching, a twist of fate came in to change her mind. “A friend of a friend worked in Perry Township as a reading recovery trainer. I reached out, she invited me to an open meeting at Glenns Valley (Elementary School), I met Mr. Oldham, I applied, I interviewed, and I was hired. I started in Perry Township 18 years ago as a half-day kindergarten teacher, half-day reading recovery teacher and I have never looked back,” she said.
She credits Roberta Hannon, who was principal at Southport Elementary School at the time, for helping her build up her confidence after having it shaken in her previous school district. “She just saved my teaching career. And I’ve told her that many times,” Scott remarked. She also felt that same welcoming spirit from the rest of the staff she interacted with. “The welcoming spirit and love that I felt in the first moments of my career in Perry started to build back that confidence that was lost. I felt like I was part of something, and I was appreciated. I will be forever grateful!” she recounted.
Scott’s family was always a big proponent of education. Her maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States in the 1930s and had to quit school around eighth grade to go and work. “They were huge advocates for education. It was never, ‘IF you go to college,’ it was always ‘WHEN you go to college,’” Scott remembered. Her paternal grandparents both graduated from high school but did not have the opportunity to attend college, instead entering the workforce. “My paternal grandmother, however, dreamed of becoming a teacher. She talked about teaching and teachers and education her whole life. When we visited Grammy’s house, we always got to play school!” she recalled. “Even as she got older and her memory was fading, she always knew me as ‘the teacher.’ We were able to have conversations, centered around school, until the very end.”
With such a strong foundation from her grandparents, her parents become the two biggest influences on her regarding education. They were at every event she and her sister were involved. They volunteered for concession stand duty, band trip chaperones and post-prom committee. “You name it, Mama and Papa Scott were there! They value education, as their parents did, realizing that education can open up doors and opportunities. They have always been the cheerleaders encouraging me, pushing me and sometimes dragging me along because their belief in me is unshakeable. I wouldn’t be anywhere without them!” Scott said.
Fast forward to today
Scott loves the process of getting to know her students. “When they first come in, they start off as names on paper, but as you get to know them you see their personalities and how they become more comfortable and grow as students,” she explained. Her goal for her students is to set a foundation and to plant seeds for them to grow a love of learning and education. Her school recognizes her for not only her passion in the classroom, but also involvement outside of the classroom. “Miss Scott organizes our annual Valentines for Vets program and is the liaison between HKA and the office of Dr. Carson. She works hard in an effort to get the valentines delivered to the veterans in our community. She is also building ‘Cheer Coordinator’ and plans our payday Friday Spirit days. Alison also played a critical role in our virtual distributions for our families this school year,” the school noted.
While much more can be said of Scott and her efforts as a teacher, she has proven to be a worthy recipient of this year’s Educator of the Year award.