Craig Hendrick-Perry Meridian 6th Grade Academy
It takes a brave soul to teach 6th grade. It also takes a kind one. Craig Hendrick, a 23-year educator, doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, but with compassion, humility, and faith in the abilities of his students he transforms his school every single day.
A day in Mr. Hendrick’s class starts with a handshake for each student. Once everyone is settled, he loves to present something—usually a random object found at Teachers’ Treasures—and ask ‘What can you make with this?’ In a school where over 60% of students are in poverty, students might never have been given that opportunity for creativity before. But everyone is treated equally in Mr. Hendrick’s class. He believes that every child has the same potential when you put the proper tools in their hands. Sometimes those tools are literal power-drills and saws, like when his Discovery Science class created a light up totem pole from an oversized plaster tube. Some people might be terrified of handing over a power drill to a sixth grader, but Mr. Hendrick knows that if just given trust and a chance, his students are ready to create beautiful things.
Sometimes the tools he gives his students aren’t so literal. Rather, they are important and life changing lessons. The Guys Read Club has become an essential part of Perry Meridian 6th Grade Academy. Mr. Hendricks started the club with the desire to create a safe space for young men who are navigating the difficult waters of middle school. By modeling empathy, compassion, and a willingness to listen, this teacher has become an amazingly transformative force in the club’s participants’ lives. They may spend their mornings chatting about novels and homework, but the boys know that Mr. Hendricks is ready to talk to them about trickier things as well, like drugs and peer pressure.
He always puts his students first and goes to great lengths to make sure that all of them feel included and special. By organizing his school’s yearly SHARE event, Mr. Hendricks finds ways to provide supplies and services for each member of the incoming 6th grade class. Thanks to his efforts, every student will arrive on the first day of school without worrying about a single thing other than learning--although some of them might be a little worried about how to talk to a girl they like. But don’t worry, Mr. Hendricks has plenty of advice about that at the next Guys Read Club meeting.
Marcia Dadon, Arsenal Tech High School
Years ago, Marcia Dadon didn’t know she wanted to be a teacher. After realizing nursing school wasn’t to her tastes, she took a journey that eventually led her to Arsenal Tech High School. Now, after teaching life skills for 21 years, she will proudly tell you, “I have the best kids in the entire school,”
It helps that they have a wonderful, empathetic teacher. Dadon believes that her students’ success is all about taking it one step at a time. Where once students with disabilities were secluded from standard classrooms, she finds every possible way to integrate them in the school culture—encouraging them to make friends, learn, and grow, just like any other teenager.
Her classroom is full of materials from Teachers’ Treasures: abacuses made from clothes hangers and yarn, drapery decorating the walls and doors, and key chains made from beads and wire. These key chains are more than just a fun art project: students were able to sell the key chains at a local art fair. With the money raised, she was able to buy every student in her class socks and a pair of shoes.
Dadon told us, “I believe the student comes first.” As a Teach Like a Champion honoree, we want this teacher to know that we believe in everything she does to create a better life for her wonderful students.
Shay Dailey, Damar Charter Academy
This Teach Like a Champion recipient has been working with students with special needs for the past decade, and it's hard to narrow down all the amazing things he's done for his school.
Whether it’s organizing a talent show or a hiking club, Dailey is always looking for new ways to help his children learn, grow, and feel safe and valued.
Not many teachers can boast that they’ve taken their classroom to the moon, but after learning that most of his students had never left the state of Indiana, that’s just what he did. After applying and receiving a grant for virtual technology, students were able to drive the moon rover, learn about
technology and outer space, and experience an entire world that they had never seen before. They're staying a little closer to home on their next trip and will be heading off to Paris soon.
It’s no surprise that this Damar Charter Academy teacher’s peers felt that he deserved celebration for his kindness, initiative, and passion.