• September 15, 2019

Cameron teacher recognized for her service - Odessa American: News

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Cameron teacher recognized for her service

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  • Elementary Teacher of the Year

    Nancy Stone stands behind her giant Connect Four game. She has been named the ECISD Elementary Teacher of the Year. Stone is the long time media specialist at Cameron Dual Language Magnet School.

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Posted: Sunday, August 11, 2019 4:30 am

More than 40 years after she began with Ector County ISD, Cameron Dual Language Magnet media specialist Nancy Stone has been named elementary school teacher of the year.

“I was very surprised; very surprised, because being a library media specialist, a lot of people don’t think of us as being teachers but we really are. We do a lot — a lot of teaching and a lot of helping teachers also,” Stone said.

Stone went through Odessa College, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from West Texas State University, now West Texas A&M in Canyon, and has taken some English as a second language courses from University of Texas Permian Basin.

She started off as a kindergarten teacher. After quite a few years of kindergarten, Stone became a second grade teacher and a reading recovery teacher, both at Cameron.

“Then I got moved into the library, so it’s a promotion each time,” Stone said.

Stone has been on the job for 42 years. Her first year was at Travis Elementary, and in her second year, she was at Travis in the morning and Reagan Magnet Elementary in the afternoon because they didn’t have enough kindergarten teachers.

The principal at Reagan at the time was moved to Cameron and Stone said he asked her to come with him.

“And I’ve been here ever since,” Stone said.

The teaching part of her job entails reading and asking the students questions.

“With the little ones, I always read them a story. We have an activity to go with the story, then we’ll retell the story just to get those basic reading skills at an early age,” Stone said.

She sees every child once a week and tries to spark an interest and a love of reading in them.

Trying to find books the students enjoy is a challenge. The boys like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and if the boys are into sports, you try to have a hook and find something they enjoy or are interested in.

“Sometimes you don’t think you’re successful, but then later you’ll hear that child come back and say, ‘I love to read. That was the best book ever. …,’” Stone said.

With teachers, it’s trying to help them find things that go along with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills they have to teach. The TEKS are current standards that outline what students need to learn in each course or grade, the Texas Education Agency website said.

“Like if they’re doing a science project, I try to pull out books that will relate to that to help them and always try to motivate their kids to do what they need to do in the classroom,” Stone said.

“Like with fourth grade, I try to have them do something with writing. When they come in and we read something, or they read a book I try to encourage them to write about it to help the fourth graders with their writing,” Stone added.

Stone always knew she was going to become a teacher and credits her first-grade instructor.

“… I still remember that teacher, and from then on, I wanted to be a teacher and I was in the program in high school when you got to work half a day in kindergarten class. … The lady that I worked for was just an awesome kindergarten teacher, so I got to start it early,” she said.

What Stone enjoys most about her job is reading so many different books to the children and their reaction to them.

“I just enjoy coming back every year. It’s just a fun job and it’s something different every day, so you don’t ever get tired of it. Then, the kids are so special. You’ll have those that make you think you want to quit, but then you always find a way to love them and come back,” Stone said.

With Cameron being a dual language campus, Stone said she tries to encourage students to pick up Spanish books as much as English texts. The dual language approach at Cameron is a 50-50 model, which means students receive 50 percent of their instruction in English and 50 percent in Spanish.

“Some of them are hesitant about trying to read the Spanish books because it’s not their native language, but they’ve got good friends that will help them. Then the little ones always help me with my Spanish. I try to invite different children to come in and read the Spanish to them. Sometimes the story’s in Spanish, so that we get both languages. If I have a parent that comes in, I can usually understand enough Spanish. It’s just speaking it that I’m not as good at, so I’ll get a child to help me and that really makes them shine when they can speak in Spanish to the parent,” Stone said.

Principal Jacob Bargas said Stone is an integral part of the staff.

“… She knows the history of Cameron. She knows where we’ve been. She can talk to the community about the needs of the students — the needs of our students in the sense of reading and literacy. She’s always advocating for students to have books in their hands, trying to get them to develop this love of reading on a daily basis,” Bargas said.

“She is also an important piece of our staff in the sense that so many of our staff go to her and look to her for guidance for teaching strategies, for classroom management, for help with particular students that may have trouble. She’s always willing to lend a helping hand,” he added.

He said the library is always open to teachers, students and parents.

Bargas noted that Stone never says something isn’t her job.

“If a situation arises, she always asks how she can help. She’s got such a great giving heart, a loving teacher and she’s got great experience and knowledge that she’s always willing to share,” he added.

Stone and her husband, Danny, have one son.

 

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