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Elementary Teacher of the Year: Shelly Renfro


As the fifth-grade science teacher to 100 students at W.S. Ryan Elementary School, Shelly Renfro works to string together the simple moments of success. Daily, she celebrates meeting her students where they are and moving them forward.


“Sometimes with students you plant seeds all year long to see them come to fruition all at once, and sometimes that might be at the very end,” Ms. Renfro said. “When I see that, it’s what keeps me going.”


A good part of her day is spent modeling a love of science, especially when she’s working in the school’s Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE). The area serves as an eco-lab where the “Green Team” tends to the Tower Gardens where the harvest of herbs and lettuces grow in abundance.


“When students see me working right alongside of them, and we are getting our hands dirty, they realize that I’m learning as well,” said Mrs. Renfro. “That’s important, and I find them working hard or as hard as I do.”


The opportunity to discover new things and explore different ideas gives her the opportunity to interact on many levels with her students. She believes the most import thing is relating to her students.


“I try to listen to hear and listen for students and how they make a connection to learning something, and when they are using the knowledge it’s exciting,” said Mrs. Renfro.


She believes that when students can re-explain something they’ve been taught or show examples of how they are using information it deepens understanding and demonstrates knowledge of a subject.


“Teaching is a lot of listening, and they (students) might think that I’m not paying attention,” she explained. “But, I try to stay constantly in tune even when we’re working on something tactile or having lunch, I’m always listening.
To view Mrs. Renfro's video spotlight, please click here