Uplift Hampton’s 6th grade science teacher Suzanne Weathers has always had an exceptional singing voice. In high school she attended the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in New York, one of the most prestigious performing arts high schools in the nation. While she was a vocal artist on the outside, internally there was a love for science bubbling up to the surface.
“When I entered my junior year of high school, I was asked by my academic counselor about my future plans. Did I want to be a performer or a teacher? I always knew I wanted to teach, but that question began to make me think. I loved science and sociology so the opportunity to combine my desire to teach and my love for science is what led me here.”
Being a science teacher is not as dissimilar to performing arts as one might expect. Artistic performance requires a never give up attitude and a desire to persist. Uplift Hampton scholars have noticed this trait in Ms. Weathers and she tries to instill the same characteristic in her classroom.
“I have had several scholars tell me that you never let me give up, even when I wanted to. You made me believe in myself and my ability to succeed,” she said
Success in Ms. Weathers’ classroom requires increased scholar accountability thanks to a scholar-centered approach. In a scholar-centered classroom, they choose what they will learn, how they will learn, and how they will assess their own learning. Teachers are usually there to help guide instruction but scholars are in control of their own education.
“In my classroom scholars are taking ownership of their learning and I have been the facilitator within the classroom. Scholars are also engaged in their own data tracking and goal setting. It’s amazing to see them grow their brains each and every day. They are actually enjoying this process of learning,” she said.
In her three years at Uplift Hampton, Ms. Weathers has also found that an organized classroom facilitates a strong learning environment.
She explains, “It’s important to develop tight systems and routines for all scholars. Scholars like structure despite bucking it at times. They feel secure when they can follow a set schedule and when someone holds them to a high standard.”
For her dedication and hard work, Ms. Weather’s reward is scholar growth.
“My scholars inspire me every day. They are the reason I show up in the morning. When I observe them teaching each other or helping each other understand a concept, I realize the impact that I am having on our future college graduates and educators,” she said.