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Norfolk Public Schools Teacher of the Year a Regent Alum

By Amanda Morad | July 17, 2013

Norfolk Public Schools District Teacher of the Year, Tamara Smith-Moyler '13.
Photo courtesy of Tamara Smith-Moyler

For the past four years, Regent University alumna Tamara Smith-Moyler '13 (Education) has made the halls of Sherwood Forest Elementary School in Norfolk, Va., her classroom, traveling from class to class teaching math to below-grade-level performers in grades 2-5. Her efforts as a math interventionist for the school earned her recognition as Sherwood Forest's Teacher of the Year 2013 and subsequently, Norfolk Public Schools District Teacher of the Year.

"My goal in working with the students is to 'fill in the gaps' in mathematics that may have been missed during their regular classroom instruction," Smith-Moyler said. "I primarily focus on problem solving, number sense, and computation and estimation."

Currently in her 15th year of teaching, Smith-Moyler's philosophy is that learning should expose students to real-world situations in order to prepare them for successful adulthood.

"Utilizing problem solving better prepares our students for the types of 21st century careers that they will be entering into as adults," she explained. "No longer can learning be seen as something that takes place with students sitting behind a desk and teachers being the 'givers' of knowledge. Active, hands-on lessons, ones which students can relate to, motivate them to learn and prepare them to be life-long learners; learners that have the ability to overcome challenges and are responsible for their own academic growth."

Smith-Moyler pushes her students to track their own data and performance to help encourage them to set personal goals for learning. Her methods and the small group format in which she teaches are aligned with each child's strengths and weaknesses, allowing her to uniquely meet individual learning needs and empower her students to really own their education.

"The School of Education (SOE) is proud to recognize Tamara Smith-Moyler as a remarkable educator who embodies the spirit of teaching with a focus upon excellence and quality in her work with students," said Dr. Gail Derrick, dean of SOE. "Tamara prepares students to rise to new levels of performance and provides new opportunities for their success."

During her time at Regent, Smith-Moyler was in the Education Specialist (Ed.S.) program. "The professors were always extremely helpful, and have been a constant source of wisdom—both spiritually and educationally," she said. The program focuses on preparing educational leaders who have interest in special needs and high-risk students.

Helping those students reach success, Smith-Moyler said, is what she loves most about teaching.

"How can a price be put on the look on a child's face when he finally 'gets it' after struggling with a math concept for so long?" she said. "What price can be given for the feeling of love that a teacher feels when even the most troubling student gives her a hug and writes a note that simply says, 'I'm sorry, I'll try harder tomorrow'?

"And what cost can be named for the pride a teacher feels when a former student, now an adult, sees her elementary school teacher and says, 'You had such an impact on my life—because of you, I now want to be a teacher'?"

Learn more about the School of Education.


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