By Rebecca LaFlure
Killeen Daily Herald
During the 10 years Sheila Banks worked as a supervisor at Child Protective Services, she saw a need for strong educators.
"Seeing the volume of children who were in terrible situations … I felt like something was lacking," Banks said. "It impressed upon me that I needed to pursue my dreams."
Banks, 39, began teaching first-graders at Pershing Park Elementary School four years ago. She recently received a Killeen Daily Herald Excellence in Teaching Award for going above and beyond to meet the needs of her students and their families.
"She will help any child in need," wrote Dorothy Jackson, a library aide who nominated Banks for the honor. "She … is truly called to be a teacher."
Banks, an Ellison High School graduate, said she knew from an early age she wanted to work with children.
"When my friends and I played school, I was always the teacher," she said.
She went on to receive a degree at the University of North Texas, and after a decade at CPS, decided it was time to enter the classroom.
Banks emphasizes the importance of families and works to keep parents involved, even if they are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I believe that a child did not sign up for their parent to be deployed and the parents should be just as much a part of a child's education overseas as they are here," Banks said. "I try to allow that opportunity to stay connected."
Banks provides weekly work samples to deployed parents and sends them photos of their children each grading period. She also signed up for Skype so her students can video chat with their parents online.
Banks said she hopes to return to school and receive her master's and doctoral degrees, and one day become a principal.
"I want to inspire my children to make the most of every moment in their education experience," she said. "I hope that for the time that my students are assigned to me they feel safe, empowered and encouraged to do their personal best."
Contact Rebecca LaFlure at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7548. Follow her on Twitter at KDHeducation.