A Champion for Students

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What does it mean to be a Champion for students?

I read Jimmy Casas’s Culturize, an educator’s book, a few years ago. It is by far one of the best educational books I have read. 

Casas writes about four core principles of a positive school culture:

  • Champion for Students

  • Expect Excellence

  • Carry the Banner

  • Be a Merchant of Hope

The first principle resonates with me as the school year ends, and I begin to reflect upon it. 

Champion for students

Building relationships is a critical component of our work in the classroom. We must take the time to connect with our students and get to know them.

Casas writes, “All students need to be cared for on a personal level. Unless we intentionally create a connection with children, they will fall through the cracks.”

Not only do we need to connect with them, but we also need to believe that they can learn at their level of success. Connecting and believing in our students leads to their increased self-belief in their abilities and their capacity for endless possibilities. Investing in relationships takes time and intentionality but is necessary and well worth the effort. 

I think of all my time spent building relationships with my students. I know I have to make intentional efforts to get to know them, check up on them, cheer them on, and show them that I believe in them. Each year, I admire every one of them and recognize their uniqueness.

I can see possibilities in each student.

I taught them.

I fought for them.

I cheered them on.

I cried for and with them.

I loved them.

And although they are no longer in my class, they will always be my students.

My door and heart will always remain open for them. 

One Special Educator

As I ponder Casas’s thoughts about being a champion, I remember my son’s English teacher in his first year of high school. 

As parents, we always want the best for our kids. I know that I always wanted my children’s teachers to know them and care for them. Through the years, my children have had great teachers, but this one stood out because she did something that no other teacher had done for my son. This teacher truly made a massive difference in his life. 

So, what did she do?

She was intentional in her actions in getting to know my son.

At Back to School Night, she asked all the parents to write her a note stating anything we felt was vital for her to know about our child. 

What did I write?

“ My son is quiet, but when you get to know him, you will discover a great young man. If you talk to him about sports, you will reel him in. Please build a relationship with my son and ensure he does not feel invisible in your classroom.”

This extraordinary teacher read this and took it to heart. Later that week, my son came home and told me how his English teacher engaged in conversation with him and made him feel important. He continued talking about her and her class throughout the school year. At the end of the year, he stated that she was one of his best teachers. That means a lot coming from my son. I am so grateful for this positive experience during his first year in high school. 

She was a champion for my son!

She was intentional in her actions and changed the trajectory of that school year for him. He felt seen and heard, which impacted my quiet son.  

Relationships make a difference.

We can all be champions for our students. 


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