Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) is fortunate to have plenty of talented faculty; Mrs. Amy Blanchard is no exception. Third grade ELA teacher Mrs. Blanchard, who has been with GCA for four years, won the esteemed award of GCA District Teacher of the Year! Throughout her 21 years of teaching experience, this is her first Teacher of the Year title. Winning this award means so much to her; she still feels like it’s surreal. Mrs. Blanchard also noted that it was particularly meaningful because she was voted in by her peers—the very people who understand the ins and outs of teaching.
Mrs. Blanchard shared that despite being from a family of educators, she didn’t always want to be a teacher. In fact, because she saw her parents come home each day fulfilled, but exhausted, she didn’t want that for herself. But, after working multiple summers at a camp for children and volunteering with her mom at school often, she couldn’t deny the passion she had developed for teaching. She emphasized the feeling that overcame her when she helped kids understand something, as a primary motivator for deciding to pursue an education degree in college.
There are a couple things Mrs. Blanchard wishes others knew about the teaching profession. First, a change in public perception over the teaching schedule, hours, and vacations of teachers. For example, even though teachers have summer or winter breaks “off,” much of that time is made up throughout the school year, as teachers are working overtime outside of school hours. Another aspect is how emotionally involved teaching can be. Many teachers are not only teaching students academically, but also are emotionally invested in their students and their overall growth—they care!
If Mrs. Blanchard could give one piece of advice to students, she would give two. First, to let them know to believe in themselves. Students need to have confidence in their abilities and believe that they can improve. The other is to stop comparing themselves to others. People have different strengths and weaknesses, so students should stop fixating on the work of their peers and start focusing on their own work.
There are many things that Mrs. Blanchard loves about teaching at GCA, but her favorite is that she doesn’t have to wear shoes! She also likes how involved she can be in her daughters’ lives thanks to the ability to work from home. She has also found that teaching at GCA allows her to focus more on the academic aspects of teaching rather than all the other things that can come up with teaching.
Of course, like with any career, there are rewards and challenges. She highlighted one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching has been how students are excited to see her every day. Even though she was their elementary school teacher, she also highlights how some students will reach out after they graduate and remember her as their favorite teacher. She mentioned how fun it is to see these students grown up after all the years. One of the challenges she noted, particularly teaching online, was connecting with students. She emphasized how important it is to be creative to create relationships with her students.
Mrs. Blanchard was incredibly thankful for all the support she has received over the years, and wanted to shout out her family, students, administrators, and colleagues. She highlighted the importance of her husband and how he has listened over the years, her daughters and how they put up with her, how she believes being a mother has made her a better teacher, the support of the teachers she works with, and how helpful her administrators have been. She stressed how fortunate she feels to work for GCA, and we are happy to share that the feeling is mutual! Stay hootworthy, Mrs. Blanchard!