FLORENCE, Ala. — "Mistakes are expected, respected, inspected, and corrected," yells the classroom full of fourth graders at Rogers High School.
That is one of the many chants Mrs. William Vaden uses to remind his students that you can always learn from your mistakes.
"This place is a safe environment for them to come and make those mistakes and then be corrected in a loving way," explains William Vaden, the Valley's Top Teacher. "And then also share that with other people, when other people around them make mistakes as well."
"He is really nice and he seems like he has been through hard stuff too, like in school." shares Charlee Oak, a fourth grade student. "Because he talks about when he was in fourth grade too."
Even with masks on, it easy to see that there is no shortage of smiles or dance moves in the classroom of Mr. Vaden.
"He is not like other teachers, smiles Tripp Underwood, a fourth-grader. "He lets you shoot paper balls. But if you miss it once, you have to pick it up and just put it in the garbage."
"You're still cool!" yells the classroom of kids when a fellow student makes a mistake.
Mr. Vaden has created a place where kids feel comfortable, loved, and feel like they can reach their goals. He also is the Drama and Show Choir Sponsor and encourages kids to get out of their shell and be confident.
"If you need someone to talk to, you can talk to him," shares Charlee. "And you can do Show Choir with him. Last year I signed up, but I didn't do it because I was scared, but this year I am going to try to do it again."
The selfless love he shows his students is something he learned from his grandma, who was a teacher in Florence. He is proud to carry on her legacy.
"My grandmother was a teacher and she recently passed away of COVID in July, so it has been tough the past couple months," shares Mrs. Vaden. "But just watching her growing up, how much she loved people just right where they were. She didn't care who they were, how they dressed, how they acted - she just showed them that love and kind of passed that down to me."
Mr. Vaden's motto, when it comes to teaching, is you have to start with the heart to get to the brain.
"I want to make sure I see them for who they are and love them right where they are at," says Mr. Vaden.
"If you ever meet him, you're probably going to like him because he is really, really nice," grins Tripp.
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