Brandywine High School special education teacher Jahsha Tabron was named the Delaware Teacher of the Year Monday night.
“It really does feel like winning an Academy Award,” Tabron said as tears spilled out of her eyes at Dover High School.
She was chosen from a field of 20 teachers representing their school districts or charter schools.
Tabron was nominated for her students-first attitude, work-hard ethic and dedication to her students, as well as her ability to build communities.
“I’m reminded daily that I am a part of something important, something bigger than myself and my classroom,” she said in accepting the honor. “We are a village. We support and hold each other to high standards. We uplift. We persevere.
“School communities teach us to work with intent. At the ore of a true school community, there’s accountability, solidarity and a mutual understanding why we are her to prepare students. This is what creates successful students and successful schools.”
Tabron teaches ninth graders who are transitioning into high school. In addition to serving as her school’s special education department chair, Tabron also is a district transition facilitator to assist students with disabilities transition to post-secondary education or employment opportunities.
“Our community includes teachers, counselors and administrators,” she said during her speech. “The development of our freshmen focus team allows interdisciplinary collaboration through content and attention to the whole student. I work with experts, families and students in varying circumstances. These experiences make me who I am as a teacher.”
Tabron also works to uphold equitable educational practices, according to a press release announcing her selection. She facilitates opportunities for fellow educators to foster student-centered growth. She mentors new teachers in special education compliance requirements necessary for developing individualized education programs.
A former colleague, M. Dwayne Caldwell, said in his nomination that she lives by a three-step guide in all that she does: “1) be truthful about what is actually happening; 2) determine the steps that need to be taken to change; and 3) hold yourself accountable for taking the steps. This approach has guided all of her work – as a building leader, as a mentor to new teachers, with special needs students, and with me.”
Tabron believes the most important thing an educator can teach a student is the power of self-advocacy, the press release said. She speaks for the voiceless. She helps the often-overlooked students find their voices whilst advocating for them.
She connects with students and encourages them to become active participants in their learning. Tabron believes that success lies in self-reflection. She is always willing to re-examine her work and the impact that it has on her students.
“Let us all never forget, and never get so wrapped up in who we think we are, that we forget to become who we can be,” Tabron said during her acceptance speech. “And I want you all to know that I will continue to love you all for who I know you will be. Every teacher that I’ve ever worked with over the years, thank you for being open to inclusion and welcoming my students as our students. Our classrooms are sacred places and I thank you for feeling safe enough to let me in.”
Tabron earned her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary and special education from Delaware State University and her Master of Education in school leadership and instruction from Wilmington University.
Tabron takes the place of outgoing Teacher of the year Kimberlock Stock and will be Delaware’s candidate in the National Teacher of the Year Program, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsored by the Voya Foundation.
She will receive a $5,000 grant to use for the educational benefit of her students, as well as two personal grants totaling an additional $5,000. The remaining 19 school district/charter candidates each will receive a personal grant of $2,000.
All 20 teachers also received gifts from Advantech Inc. and their district superintendents or charter principal.
Tabron also received gifts from the Office of U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware School Boards Association and Delaware State Teachers of the Year Association. In addition, each State of Delaware Teacher of the Year receives commemorative plates from the Division of Motor Vehicles. The winner also receives a fully paid doctorate program from Delaware State University and University of Delaware, and a 10-karat gold ring from Jostens.
Also nominated were:
- Appoquinimink: Amanda Binkley of Odessa High (engineering and computer science)
- Caesar Rodney: Karine Scott of Simpson Elementary (physical education)
- Cape Henlopen: Maura Johnson of Shields Elementary (third grade)
- Capital: Morgan Jewell of Hartly Elementary (kindergarten)
- Charter Network: Diana Magaña of Las Américas ASPIRA Academy (third grade Spanish immersion)
- Christina: Carla Probst of Downes Elementary (fourth grade)
- Colonial: Robert Poore of Southern Elementary (physical education)
- Delmar: Sonja Warner of Delmar High (mathematics)
- Indian River: Haley Mears of East Millsboro Elementary (special education)
- Lake Forest: Clarence ‘Clay’ F. Beauchamp II of Lake Forest South Elementary (kindergarten)
- Laurel: Jessica Pajda of Laurel High (social studies)
- Milford: Sarah Simon of Morris Early Childhood Center (kindergarten)
- New Castle County Vo-Tech: Dustin Craighton of St. Georges Technical High (science)
- Polytech: Debra Castille-Hall of Polytech High (English)
- Red Clay Consolidated: Matthew Marion of Linden Hill Elementary (music)
- Seaford: Melissa Pinkerton of Seaford High (English)
- Smyrna: Lauren Mohamed of Sunnyside Elementary (music)
- Sussex Tech: Stephanie Pegelow of Sussex Technical High (English)
- Woodbridge: Kira Wagar of Woodbridge High (English)
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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