SONIC’s August Teacher of the Month is Annette Lutes, who teaches special education at Black Canyon Junior-Senior High School in Emmett, Idaho.
Below, Ms. Lutes reflects on the importance of guaranteeing students have the necessary supplies to encourage growth and allow candid expression in the classroom. She explains how receiving funding support through DonorsChoose and the SONIC Limeades for Learning program allowed for her students with learning disabilities to better express themselves through artwork in the classroom. Ms. Lutes also shares advice for other teachers who are considering having a classroom project funded through DonorsChoose.
Who or what inspired you to become a teacher?
My mother was my inspiration. She was a Sunday schoolteacher and a minister. She loved teaching kids.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is to see students with disabilities succeed when others doubted them.
What advice do you have for fellow educators?
Never give up or place limits on your students that are struggling.
If you could give any advice to yourself as a first-year teacher, what would it be?
I would advise first-year teachers to be patient with themselves, set attainable goals and reach for the sky.
What are some ways that you stay inspired as a teacher?
I am inspired by looking for the little accomplishments from my students and the things they did that others thought they could not do.
What are some of your go-to ways to encourage students to engage in the classroom?
The best ways to encourage your students are to make learning exciting and praise them for their accomplishments.
If you have had a mentor in your teaching career, what is something important they have taught you?
My mentor taught me that you must have thick skin and face any adversity with firm action.
What professional relationship(s) have you found most beneficial in your teaching career?
My most beneficial relationships are with fellow educators. We are able to collaborate and share ideas with one another.
How can community members and brands best support teachers, and why is it important to you?
Community members and brands could best support teachers by assuring that their students have the tools that they need for learning.
What is your favorite project that has received funding from SONIC Drive-In, and why?
My favorite projects that were provided by funding from SONIC were the ones that provided materials to incorporate art into the classrooms. Art is a vital outlet for students to express themselves openly.
What are some of the notable classroom needs you and your fellow teachers have right now where funding support could help?
Currently there is a great need for students to have classroom supplies, reading materials and snacks for hungry students.
What tips do you have for fellow educators who want to upload a project on DonorsChoose for the first time?
My tip to fellow educators who want to start a project on DonorsChoose is to start small and build. Do not try to bite off a big project when you first begin.
This story is part of an ongoing series.