Camelot Education Recognizes Outstanding Teacher of the Year Recipients from Schools in Florida, Texas and Virginia
Three teachers across Camelot Education’s schools in Florida, Texas, and Virginia were recognized for their ongoing passion for helping students realize their full learning potential. Camelot honors these educators with Teacher of the Year awards for their respective school.
Camelot Academy of Escambia: Venise Evans
Mathematics teacher Venise Evans loves what she does because she gets to work with kids who go through similar experiences as she did growing up.
“I had a troubled upbringing and knew I could make a difference with children like me,” said Evans. “I felt like I could relate to them and help them to be more effective.”
One way she works to achieve this is by sparking joy in her classroom.
“She has a teaching style of her own,” said Camelot Academy of Escambia Executive Director Chris Wooten. “By building individual rapport and focusing on hands-on learning, Venise keeps students fully engaged in her classroom.”
Evans is wholly devoted to inspiring students to love school.
“Every year, I focus on building up comradery and making it better and stronger so that our students are proud to go to Camelot Academy,” said Evans. “That is the reason I brought the pep rally and spirit week to our school. Now, we do it every year.”
Evans attributed her recognition as Teacher of the Year to her go-getter attitude. “I do not like to take no for an answer.” Whether it’s a student or a new programming opportunity, Evans will do whatever it takes to create success.
For Wooten, it was her ability to grow that earned her this recognition.
“She made some tremendous growth with her students this year. It will be special to see her at work for a long time to come,” said Wooten.
In partnership with Escambia County School District, Camelot Academy of Escambia excels at re-engaging middle and high school students in their education by helping them overcome behavioral, social, emotional, and academic challenges in their lives.
Richey Academy: Munir Shakir
As Richey Academy’s integrated sciences teacher, Munir Shakir helps students understand who they are in relation to the world around them.
“I work to help students study themselves, who they are, and how they relate to the world,” said Shakir. “My students respond by way of reflection. I can really see them thinking and pondering on their own life and what is going on within them and their surroundings.”
Richey Academy Executive Director Cory Thames and Academic Coordinator Stephanie Barard attribute Shakir’s success to his enthusiasm for teaching science. “When I first interviewed him, I could feel his passion for science and knew he could transfer that passion to his students,” said Barard.
Shakir came to Camelot last year with experience working with vulnerable students, which serves Richey Academy’s students well.
“He has a lot of empathy for his students,” Thames says. “He shows them a lot of respect and cares about who they are, how they think, and their place in this world.”
Just one year into his time at Richey, Shakir showed himself to be a consistent collaborator and communicator. His structure, expertise, and consistency distinguish him as Teacher of the Year.
But, it is not recognition that motivates Shakir.
“What excites me most about this job is my ability to give back and share with students and staff every day,” said Shakir.
Richey Academy partners with the Spring Integrated School District in Houston, TX, to serve middle and high school students who have experienced behavioral, social, emotional, and academic challenges, are often years behind in coursework, and risk not matriculating or graduating on time. Students at Richey Academy transition back to their neighborhood school with the ability to tackle challenges positively, and be academically and socially successful.
Spartan Academy: Jovan Jones
At Spartan Academy, a transitional high school in partnership with Richmond Public Schools, in Virginia, English teacher Jovan Jones gets to do what she loves, and grow as an educator and a person in the process.
One of the main things she learned about teaching over her four years at the school is the need to reach students’ minds by reaching their hearts first.
“To teach you need to know who your students are,” said Jones. “You need to appreciate what makes them tick, their likes, their dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses.”
Spartan Academy Executive Director Ray Strickland finds that Jones is uniquely able to understand her students.
“She knows how to meet students at their level and understand the issues they may have outside the classroom,” said Strickland.
Jones is also an excellent team player. In addition to assisting with teacher training and playing a lead role during common planning time, she will go above and beyond to resolve issues.
“If there is an issue among students that needs attention, Jovan has the judgment to pause what she is doing and work to resolve the issue,” said Strickland.
As schooling shifted to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones stayed true to her principles for success.
“My goal is to continue to be effective in one-on-one instruction to maintain active learning,” said Jones.
This year marks Jones’ second consecutive year as a Camelot Teacher of the Year.