Allison Kerley Townsend, a third-grade teacher at Barnwell Elementary School in Fulton County, Georgia took the stage this week at the Personalized Learning Summit begin held in Atlanta. Townsend was named the 2019 Georgia Teacher of the Year and discussed how personalized learning and a love for education has led her to this accomplishment.
For Townsend, it’s important to give each child a voice in their learning and to inspire them to take ownership of their education. As a teacher, she strives to nurture her student’s passion for learning with independence.
“Some people believe that children are the ‘leaders of tomorrow,’” Townsend said. “I like to challenge this idea. We cannot ignore the incredible impact children can have on the world today – if we let them. My mission is to help students take ownership of their learning and have an impact beyond the classroom…whether they are Skyping a scientist across the country, blogging about how they believe we should combat pollution, or sharing the inspiring music videos we create as a class.”
Since receiving her honor, Townsend has been able to travel across the country to help other teachers strive towards personalized learning. By attending conferences, visiting other school districts, and using social media, she has been able to connect with educators in a variety of schools and income areas – all of which have different needs.
“I have helped a teacher in North Carolina design an authentic project-based learning unit for her students based on nutrition and fractions,” Townsend said. “I have Skyped with a teacher in Virginia to teach him how to implement student-led conferences. I have even had a teacher across the world in Vietnam reach out to me to let me know that she shared my students’ personal mission statements with her class, and that inspired them to write their own. I am passionate about inspiring students and teachers around the world and believe that our impact does not have to wait for ‘tomorrow.’ Every single one of us can help change the world today.”
To begin that change, Townsend says that teachers must focus to develop children’s learning, but to do this, we must first empower these teachers with the right tools and resources. “We are here in the same room, for the same reason – our kids,” she said.
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