Angela Hulsey

Angela Hulsey of Rockford has been teaching in Rockford for 11 years. She taught Kindergarten for nine years and is in her third year teaching West View Elementary first graders. There are many trends and jargon in today’s education field. Angela explains one: “Positive Growth Mindset is a catchy phrase, but the essential philosophy of staying positive and embracing failure as a gateway to success is the essence of why I teach and why I am the teacher I am today.” Christine Smith, who was principal when Angela taught at Beyer Elementary, recommended her because she is not just an effective teacher, she has “the gift of teaching – the ability to truly light up the classroom with inspiration.” Questioning herself and her choice of vocation while at her first school, Angela found the need to stop blaming others and reevaluate her own behavior and attitude. She decided that having a positive attitude was a choice, so she chose it! She sought out positive peers and mentors, professional development courses and a master’s degree. She adjusted her thinking, realizing that the more challenging students are the ones who most need love and attention. Angela credits Connected School Training with changing her classroom management style and even with saving her from leaving the field of education. She learned to make positive connections with colleagues, students and their families. Since she didn’t know about positive growth mindset until an adult, she concluded that many students – and adults – could use guidance to understand how to model positivity and form connections as well. After all, she has taught students who have experienced such trauma as an incarcerated parent, abandonment, foster care and even a murdered family member. Now when a student displays bad behavior, she considers it an opportunity to “teach them about better choices, calmer reactions, forgiveness, redemption and being a part of a positive community.” She disciplines privately or directs students to a calming corner as needed. Referrals to administrators have sharply declined. “I maintain my classroom authority without the drama.” Angela builds rapport with her students by establishing expectations early and by sharing her own likes and dislikes with them. She lets her students know that they can share anything with her and she will make the time to listen. Though her “job” is to teach students, Angela clearly also connects with others in the school. Another West View teacher wrote, “She teaches her students to strive for excellence, to love learning and to respect each other, and she teaches all of us (her peers) to give our best to our students, to wear a smile, to have faith and to remember that the storms of life can often produce beautiful rainbows and new growth.”