“Once I understood the goal, mission and impact of An Achievable Dream, I knew it would be a dream!” — Crystal Tyler, Achievable Dream Middle and High at Lynnhaven, Virginia Beach
Teachers provide students with the blueprint for their futures at An Achievable Dream. Teachers foster academic and social development in students and prepare them to lead fulfilling lives. An Achievable Dream’s educators are the heartbeat of the school’s mission to develop independent, productive citizens. They expand the organization’s vision to bring equity to education by providing opportunities for success in school and life.
“Our teachers are mentors, coaches and trusted advisors for our students. At An Achievable Dream, our priority is to support our teachers and provide them with professional development, resources and opportunities. We know that our teachers are the backbone of our program, so we emphasize doing “whatever it takes” to ensure that our teachers are celebrated and appreciated,” said Lee Vreeland, Ed.D., President and CEO, An Achievable Dream.
As the school year ended, An Achievable Dream spoke to its teachers in Newport News, Virginia Beach and Henrico County to hear their perspectives on the organization and their students.
Why did you choose to teach at An Achievable Dream vs. another school?
“I chose An Achievable Dream Academy because I could tell from the moment I walked in that this school is dedicated to children. I could feel the family environment that An Achievable Dream has cultivated, and I was drawn to it. No other school gave me that feeling,” said Cydney Gentry, An Achievable Dream Academy, Newport News.
“In my eight years of educational experience, I have never witnessed a program that parallels An Achievable Dream Academy’s support of developing the entire child. Dreamers connect with people and programs that build their aptitude for leadership in school, inside their homes and in their communities. They engage in activities from extended day clubs, Saturday school enrichment, summer intersession and additional field trips not offered in most educational environments. Achievable eliminates voids that hinder a child’s capacity to dream beyond their current circumstance. Connecting with An Achievable Dream Academy forces you to drop the word ‘impossible,’ because ‘limitless’ becomes the standard,” said Tanisha Hawkins, Seatack Elementary An Achievable Dream Academy, Virginia Beach.
As a teacher, what support have you received from An Achievable Dream that you have not seen/received in other schools?
“An Achievable Dream makes it possible for me to teach in a way that is true to my soul. An Achievable Dream has provided books for my students, supplies and amazing field trips. Anytime I have an idea, I present it to AAD and they help me figure out how we can make it happen for our Dreamers. They have also helped me grow my career with advanced placement (AP) training and other professional development opportunities,” said Ashley Francis, An Achievable Dream Middle and High School, Newport News.
“Dreams are seeds that when planted and nurtured foster a garden of infinite possibilities. The opportunities that An Achievable Dream provides for staff and students directly fosters this environment,” said Valerie Respass, Seatack Elementary An Achievable Dream Academy, Virginia Beach.
What do you wish others knew about An Achievable Dream?
“I wish others knew the amount of potential our students have and the power of adults believing in their abilities,” said Jillian Hernandez, An Achievable Dream Academy, Newport News.
“Our students belong to all of us. We do not see a student as someone else’s responsibility, even if we have never taught them in our own class. The adults take care of each other like a village. The job is demanding, and without each other’s support daily, we would not be as successful of a school. This is my home away from home,” said Lori Buck, An Achievable Dream Middle and High School, Newport News.
What is something you have accomplished as a teacher at An Achievable Dream that you are proud of?
“I took my students aboard the 40 ft. jet drive field investigation boat Jenny S. to explore the Elizabeth and James Rivers and learn about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. I also planned the same trip for every other An Achievable Dream grade level! We attended the Hampton Roads Environmental Education Boat Program through the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. For some of my students, this was their first time on a boat,” said Crystal Tyler, An Achievable Dream Middle and High School at Lynnhaven, Virginia Beach.
“I co-pioneered our Advanced Placement (AP) program at An Achievable Dream Middle and High School, where we grow our Dreamers into advanced placement students. We enhanced instruction in every class to teach our students these skills. We have offered AP Statistics and AP Calculus since the school opened. We often have as many students enrolled in our AP math courses as the largest high schools in our district.” – Jonothan Lister, An Achievable Dream Middle and High School, Newport News.
What is your favorite part about teaching at An Achievable Dream?
“My favorite part about teaching at An Achievable Dream is the unique opportunity as an educator to drive my students toward success. The program features, such as our extended day block and Saturday school, allow me to work with students on skills on a more targeted level and invest more into their abilities. It also allows me to build meaningful bonds with students. We start our school year in the summer with intersession, which gives me an advantage in getting to know students and their needs to navigate their learning experience for the school year,” said Julexus Hyman, An Achievable Dream Middle and High School at Oak Avenue Complex, Henrico County.
“An Achievable Dream provides students the extra support they need to become successful. Smaller class sizes and continuous mentoring help students receive more one-on-one instruction, along with the encouragement and motivation to persevere,” said Michael Shaffer, An Achievable Dream Middle and High School at Lynnhaven, Virginia Beach.
What is the legacy you want to leave as a teacher at An Achievable Dream?
“I want my students to know that I demand only what I know they were capable of, I simply help them discover their ability,” said Jonothan Lister, An Achievable Dream Middle and High School, Newport News.
“The legacy I want to leave as a teacher at An Achievable Dream is its continued success and thriving of Dreamers. As one of the first teachers at An Achievable Dream Middle and High in Henrico County, it is my hope that the diligent and dedicated work put in by myself, the director and my colleagues will serve as an anchor for providing Dreamers a place to be supported, educated and cared for,” said Julexus Hyman, An Achievable Dream Middle and High School at Oak Avenue Complex, Henrico County.
Describe a Dreamer’s success story that you were a part of. How did you contribute to their overall growth and development?
“There are so many success stories at the Dream: Seeing Dreamers attend college after hearing them say the banners every day, and when they come back and visit to share their stories, families and endeavors. Those examples are the definition of success,” said Priscilla Smothers, An Achievable Dream Academy, Newport News.
“I taught a student for four years, beginning in middle school. I didn’t realize how much he influenced me as a teacher. I never lost my patience with him; he would find me whenever he needed to talk. He took his first college-level class with me in the 11th grade. At times, he struggled, but not because he couldn’t do the work, he was learning to manage his life with his academics. He is currently working on his Ph.D. at Howard University, and he completed this past semester with a 4.0 GPA,” said Lori Buck, An Achievable Dream Middle and High School, Newport News.
At An Achievable Dream, its teachers are woven into the fabric of the organization. The educational leadership and support teachers provide the school’s Dreamers transcend the 8 1/2 hour, 200-day school year and leave a lasting impression on students throughout their adulthood.
Teachers make a continuous impact on students’ growth and overall well-being. An Achievable Dream appreciates its teachers’ dedication to students, belief in the organization, and desire to change lives.