Educator of the Month: May

The following tells her story participating in the Graduate for Más Challenge.<br><br>

Congratulations to the Educator of the Month

Ms. Rena McAllister: Counselor at White Oak High School

Ms. McAllister has brought together the entire school and used the Graduate for Más Challenge to create an exciting tradition at White Oak High School.

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Q: Tell me a little about your experience as an educator.

A: “My background is in social work. I was a social worker for almost 19 years and then I made a decision because of a decision I was hearing from my clients to become a school counselor. According to the students, they would tell me they made a lot of bad decisions because they could not relate to anyone at their school. I’ve been here about 5 and a half years and I believe that every day is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students.”

Q: Describe your experience with Graduate for Mas.

A: “When I first came upon it, I didn’t believe it because I felt like it was too good to be true. When I got the email and I ordered the things that I would need to get things going there at school. Then I had to convince the principal that it was positive. I opened the box and was like oh my gosh, this is really amazing. After convincing the principal and other school counselors, we got really excited and we are still excited. Everything is about the students and making sure that students are ready for school so this is a program that we use to get kids excited about coming to school. We have been able to make a difference as far as encouraging our teachers. We get the opportunity to do something fun and we get really competitive.”

Q: What are some of your favorite and least favorite aspects of the challenge?

A: " The best thing for me is seeing the kids complete the badge and being able to see them get excited about the coupons from Taco Bell. They can learn so many things in such a fun way and you guys cover everything. It works because whatever I promise them and tell them, you guys back me up. You guys are like my support."

Q: How has participating in the challenge affected your students?

A: “The students are so fired up about those graduation cords. The seniors are so excited about it and I love seeing the kids get excited and want to help each other. Graduate for Mas is like a lifeline for us to use to meet some of the needs for our students. For you guys to offer money, it is doing great things here."

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Q: What type of impact did the Challenge have on educators and admin staff?

A: “Once we let everyone know what was going on, we went to individual homerooms to get them involved and at the beginning of the year, we put all the teacher’s names in a container and we drew out a name and gave them a $50 grant in order to purchase something that they needed and we also rewarded a teacher of the year with a $50 grant as well. We tell the students that if they love their homeroom teacher, they need to get every kid in their homeroom to fill out the badge and they need 100% participation.”

Q: How has the school spirit changed throughout the challenge?

A: “We are getting ready to go into the gym right now and take some pictures. I would say it takes 2-3 years for the school and kids to catch on to it and really understand the challenge. Now Graduate for Mas is a part of us and has become part of the school culture.”

Q: What did the school enjoy most about the Challenge?

A: “The fact that someone is taking the time to help a school out and give. I am so amazed that someone is willing to do that.”

Q: What does the school intend to do with the money?

A: "We will be making the counselor office friendlier. We have a lot of improvements to do for the kids and even to service the parents. The money goes into a general fund and we use it for a whole lot more.”

Q: How do you feel being educator of the month?

A: "I want to improve on taking other educators to the website. Since I did it myself, I feel better about showing others. I am excited about it because it has given me the opportunity to inspire others and now I can say I was educator of the month and encourage others to try and reach that goal as well.”