Sandra Masters - 2014-15 Dougherty County School System Teacher of the Year Finalist
Sandra Masters, a teacher at Jackson Heights Elementary School, is one of eight finalists for the 2014-15 Dougherty County School System Teacher of the Year Award. Masters explains her teaching philosophy and memorable moments as an educator. The award will be presented in a ceremony on April 17.
ALBANY — Over the past 20 years, Jackson Heights Elementary School kindergarten teacher Sandra Masters has not wavered in her teaching philosophy, but has added depth and dimension to those beliefs through experience.
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“For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher,” Masters, a finalist for Dougherty County’s 2014-15 Teacher of the Year, said. “I grew up in a home where education and learning were given high priority. As a young child, I watched my mother helping my older sister with school projects. As I got older I would sometimes help ‘teach’ the 4-year-olds in my mother’s Sunday school class at church.
“I don’t believe that there was a day that passed in my childhood when I wasn’t teaching.”
Masters, who was educated in the Dougherty County School System, said that nearly two decades of work in the classroom have taught her much, and she continues to learn every day.
“My beliefs are still idealistic, but have become tempered in realism as I have matured and grown as both a student and a teacher,” she said. “I believe that children are precious natural resources. Our future is dependent on these precious resources. … I am an educator because I believe children need good role models and I am proud to be one of those role models.”
Masters, who has spent her entire teaching career at Jackson Heights, said that making children comfortable in their educational environment is crucial to the learning process.
“Each child is unique and needs a safe, secure nurturing environment in which to prosper and learn,” she said. “I love working with young children and take pride in providing my students with a stimulating environment that is conducive to learning. I enjoy providing my students with a sense of ownership in the classroom. This helps them take risks and feel comfortable about making mistakes. It is my belief that students who feel a sense of belonging are more likely to develop positive attitudes towards learning.
“A teacher must be willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to ensure that students feel a sense of belonging and achieve a measure of success.”
Masters holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Albany State College (University) and a M.A. in Teaching and Learning from NOVA University.
The 2014-15 Dougherty County Teacher of the Year will be announced at a banquet Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn.