Mrs. Brenda Whitehead reaches students by appealing to their unique learning style, rather than pushing her own. She regularly incorporates untraditional learning tools like white boards, graphing calculators, smartboards and individual devices into her classroom experience. She recognizes the potential technology offers as a learning tool.
She recognizes the struggles students face and encourages all students to reach their potential. “In a small school, it is easy for students to be competitive and feel defeated if they don’t work at the same level as their peers. The students I work with are pushed to excellence, not necessarily to be equal,” Mrs. Whitehead said.
Her ability to keep up with new strategies, desire to be on the cutting edge of educational delivery and make a positive impact on her students and community has earned her the 2016 MREA Educator of Excellence Award.
Mrs. Whitehead believes in and practices innovation and creativity in her classroom every day. One of her most innovative teaching styles has been the “flipped classroom.” In this method, students watch a video prepared by Mrs. Whitehead before coming to class. When they arrive for class, Mrs. Whitehead is able to spend more time addressing questions and helping them understand.
High school math students at Murray County Schools, where Mrs. Whitehead has taught for 16 years, consistently name her as “favorite teacher.” Joe Meyer, superintendent of schools, says she has a talent for communicating with students. “She gets the point across to the students that math is more than just numbers, arithmetic and fractions; in real life, math is logic, patterns, thinking and reasoning,” he said of Mrs. Whitehead’s teaching style.
“Mrs. Whitehead’s ability to work with students to help them succeed is superior,” he said. “She has a unique way of making that connection to all students and she truly cares about each and every child that walks into her classroom.”
In her district, some colleagues refer to Mrs. Whitehead as the “Energizer Bunny on Steroids.” Her in-school volunteer activities include being a weight room supervisor, football statistician, cross country score keeper, track head scorer, prom advisor, senior class advisor, Professional Learning Community team leader, math department head and the director of the all-school play – to name a few.
“Mrs. Whitehead takes professionalism, work ethic, leadership and vision to a new level,” Meyer said. “Her positive impact on students and their achievement is second to none.” She is truly a leader by example.
MREA presents the Educator of Excellence Awards to recognize, reward, and promote excellence in education that achieves the highest outcomes for Greater Minnesota students. Learn more about the award.