JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Michele Clark, a first-grade teacher at University Heights Elementary School in Jonesboro, was selected as our February Teacher of the Month.
A Biggers native, Clark graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia and has been teaching for 35 years.
She was nominated by a parent who said Clark went the extra mile to help her son who has had difficulty reading.
The mother said her family recently learned her son had dyslexia and Clark helped them navigate his diagnosis by sending him home with additional worksheets for the family to work with him on weekends and by keeping them updated on his progress during after-school hours.
"Of course it's very touching and it's very honoring," Clark said. "At the same time I'm just thinking, of course, that's what I would do, that's my job. I don't feel like I've done anything that any other teacher doesn't do. It just kind of seems like every day to me."
Clark has taught kindergarten, first and second grade and said reading is one of her favorite parts of teaching because it's great to follow the students' progress as they learn the sounds that form words and apply that knowledge when they begin reading chapter books.
Clark always knew she wanted to be a teacher.
"I honestly feel like that was something God has always let me know that I was going to do," Clark said. "In fact, when I first went to college, I took a few introduction to business courses and I just felt like God was closing the door on that. I grew up with an aunt who also had Down syndrome, and I would play school with her. I would teach her to how to write her name and to say the alphabet."
Clark said that experience shaped how she bonds with her students today, empathizing with the children who are experiencing difficulty with a subject and helping them overcome that hurdle.
"You just want to see any child have success. And that's measured in different ways for each child," Clark said. "They're not going to all be at the same place when they come in to you at the beginning of the year, nor are they going to be at the end of the year when they leave you. But, to at least see each of them grow and have some success, I feel like I've done some of my job throughout the year."
If you'd like to nominate a teacher, click here for the Teacher of the Year online nomination form.
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