Lots of reading and lots of smiles can be expected in the second grade classroom of Mrs. Cassie McConnell from the second her kids walk in the door.
“I say ‘Hey, good morning, I am glad you’re here.’ Some of them will give me a hug, some will give a high five, and some of them, they just walk in and I am like ‘Smile! it’s going to be a great day!” explains Cassie McConnell, the Valley’s Top Teacher.
Mrs. McConnell has been teaching for five years and has created a classroom at Highland Park Elementary in Muscle Shoals where her kids feel safe and comfortable.
“She helps me with hard things I can’t figure out,” says Micah Grider, a second grade student.
“Always if you need help, she will help you,” shares Brooklynn McDaniel, a fellow second grader.
Mrs. McConnell makes it a point to show her kids she loves them beyond the four walls of the classroom, supporting them at events like dance recitals and football games.
“I just love watching them,” smiles Mrs. McConnell. “It is fun, they see me and they are like ‘You came? You are outside of school?’ Like they can’t believe that we care enough about them to do that.”
She says seeing a child for more than just their academics actually helps them learn better, because you can relate to them more.
“Many times I say ‘think about it like a football score, if you score six points and you need to kick a field goal, you can either kick the field goal for one point, or you can go for two extra points.'”
Mrs. McConnell makes each of her kids feel important and loved, which is why they adore her.
“She is very kind, she is caring, and she loves us,” says Micah Grider.
“She is kind and lovely,” adds Brooklynn McDaniel.
Mrs. McConnell helps her kids make good choices and encourages them to set goals. She does this so her kids know she believes in them and is proud of them.
“I want my kids to do well and I am treat them like they are my own child, it’s like coming home,” says Mrs. Cassie McConnell, with a smile and tears in her eyes.
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