Delco Academy’s Teacher of the Year Treasures Every Child
Deborah Andrews, Delco Academy’s Teacher of the Year, said she never expected such an accolade and was, in fact, a little embarrassed when she learned of the recognition.
“It was something I didn’t think about,” she said. “I never worked toward it and never expected it. It just sort of happened. It’s very exciting though when one’s hard work and passion is recognized.”
Andrews has been with Camelot Education’s Delco Academy for two and a half years. Delco Academy is a transition school that teaches children in grades K-12 who experience emotional, behavioral, and academic challenges in a traditional school setting. Delco Academy fosters a therapeutic classroom environment and emphasizes the social, emotional, and intellectual development of each child, something that Drew Stem, the school’s executive director, said Andrews excels at.
“She has an amazing passion for education. She’s the first to arrive for the day and the last to leave. This is more than just a job to her. She deeply cares about her students and nurtures a close relationship with them and their families,” Stem said. “She’s concerned about their overall growth inside and outside of the classroom. She takes the time to get to know her students personally.”
Delco Academy nurtures student success by implementing a positive rewards system which cultivates positive leadership skills and enhances social skills. Delco Academy follows their partner’s, Southeast Delco School District, rigorous academic model and yearly calendar. At Delco Academy, students are provided smaller classes and more individual attention, in a nurturing environment, so that they may achieve success.
Andrews said that teaching children, especially children who come from difficult environments, is something she has always had a passion for. Andrews graduated from West Chester University with a major in elementary education. Later, she went back for post-graduate studies in special education. She teaches 3rd and 4th grades at Delco Academy. She said part of what makes Delco Academy successful is the close partnership between parents and the teachers. Working as a team allows her, and the rest of the staff to stay in close communication with parents, and keep student interests in focus.
“Every student, every person is to be valued. Not for who they are, or how smart they are, or where they come from, but just because they’re a human being,” she said. “Everyone has the right to be treasured. I’ve always had a love for children but especially the ones who don’t have much. They’re the ones who feel undervalued. At Delco Academy, we show them they are valued and have something to contribute to our community and our culture.”
She told the story of a fourth-grade student who came to Delco with serious behavior problems.
“She had multiple meltdowns every day. Gradually, slowly, over time she went from having no emotional control to having control,” Andrews said. “She was always excelling academically, but to see her advance emotionally was wonderful. She even got to the point where she was able to encourage other children with similar problems. By the end of the year, it was a complete turnaround, and her mother believes she’s ready to return to her home school. It was amazing to watch this child’s metamorphosis.”
Andrews said her future plans revolve around focusing on teaching children reading skills. She’s in the process of attaining a specialized reading certification from the Wilson Reading System, an organization that, for three decades, has worked with individuals with dyslexia.
“This is something I really want to do,” Andrews said. “People with dyslexia can’t connect a sound to a letter. I’ll be taking a number of workshops to attain a reading specialist certificate. Reading is the basic foundation of education. Without that, skill people stagnate. I want to be able to help people turn their lives around.”