One student sits in a chair with her back to the chalkboard as students go up one by one and write something positive about her. As the student turns around to read all of the encouraging affirmations, she beams with a smile on her face from ear to ear.
This lesson in kindness also improves students’ social interaction skills, writing skills, reading skills and penmanship. It is a typical lesson in Hettie Halstead teacher Christina Newberry’s class where students develop an appreciation for each other while building their academic abilities.
Principal Billie Diaz selected Newberry as Hettie Halstead Elementary’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.
“Mrs. Newberry is a dedicated member of the CCISD family and has contributed countless hours to the betterment of our students and her team members,” Diaz said. “She has excellent written and verbal communication skills, and is exceptional at classroom management.
“Christina’s leadership and organizational skills have been invaluable to her team. For example, she has served as a grade chair and is thoughtful, reflective, and committed to life-long learning and continued development as an educator. Her commitment to always do what’s right for the students is apparent in her verve and zest for instructional ideas and openness to collaboration. Christina has a wonderful rapport with people of all ages, especially children. Her ability to connect with her students and her talent at teaching simple concepts, as well as more advanced topics, are both truly superior,” Diaz said. “Christina can work independently and is able to follow through to ensure that the job gets done. She accomplishes these tasks with great initiative and with a very positive attitude. Christina takes great pride in building trusting relationships with her students. She has a calm and nurturing personality, that is reflected in her students, who tend to take on her personality.”
Newberry’s classroom has a very family-oriented feel that allows students to feel comfortable in their learning journey. Her classroom is very warm and inviting, with several options for flexible seating and various reading centers incorporated throughout. She encourages students to investigate their passions and interests with a curious mind and to expand their thinking.
“Most importantly, Christina believes in building relationships with her students,” Diaz said. “This relationship is fostered by a genuine caring for the students’ well-being and a noticeable excitement every time she sees her students. The best way to get students learning in a classroom is a caring attitude.”
Newberry has served as the grade level chairman and has served as a mentor for new teachers the last two years. With her guidance and leadership, both new teachers that she has mentored have blossomed into outstanding teachers as well, said instructional coach, Sylvia Dewald.
“I work closely with many of the instructors in CCISD,” Dewald said. “I consider Christina Newberry to be one of the most energetic and responsible educators in our district.”