Molly Priest

Rockford native, Molly Priest has been teaching for 14 years. For the past nine years, she’s been teaching sixth grade general and environmental science at Eisenhower Middle School, a school she attended in her youth. A student nominator said, “Mrs. Priest is an amazing teacher. She makes learning fun. When you are in her classroom, you feel like you are cared for and safe. She always encourages her students to develop their learning. She is more than a teacher; Mrs. Priest is also a friend, a philosopher and a guide to the students.” Principal Jeff Carlson knows that many students consider her a favorite teacher. He says that it is not just because of her caring relationship with them, but also because of her creative lessons which engage each and every student. “It’s not uncommon to see her standing on a table to demonstrate a topic or to utilize any number of creative strategies to help students remember the objectives she wants them to obtain.” Her efforts do get results. In 2017, she was recognized by both WZOK and WREX-13 with Teacher of the Week awards. In 2018, more than 70-percent of her students met or exceeded their fall to spring MAP goals and in one of her classes, 92-percent of her students met or exceeded their fall to spring MAP goals. Molly lets her students know that mistakes are OK. “My learners have also discovered that wrong answers often lead to great classroom discussions where students are allowed the opportunity to teach one another.” She’s also “honest with students about the mistakes I have made, and I try to model the process in which one can analyze and learn from their mishaps.” Molly genuinely cares about her students. In 2016, when she was diagnosed with cancer, she learned how much they also care about her. Upon her return to class after treatment, she found a giant ribbon covering her wall. The ribbon contained letters from every student and on her desk were pictures and letters of encouragement. Another student who nominated Molly, said, “She puts a smile on my face. She made me love science and is very good at teaching even through difficult times. She really has been through a lot but always manages to find happiness to teach her students.” Molly says, “Alongside my family and friends, my students helped me get through the darkest days of my life and for that I will always be grateful.” Molly encourages goal-setting and positive thinking. Her students reflect on their progress and she brainstorms with them to find ways to achieve their learning goals. They develop confidence and take pride in their achievements. “No matter where a student starts, they are capable of growth.” She enjoys working with progressive, supportive staff and administrators, as well as a diverse student body. “We celebrate and respect our differences, all the while finding ways to connect to one another, as we all have the same goal: to be academically, socially and emotionally prepared for the future.” Susie Lynch, an EMS parent and Booster Club President considers Molly, “a once in a lifetime teacher, the teacher you always dream of, hope your child will have for inspiration, for involvement and for instilling a love of learning.” Molly, in concluding her portfolio shared that she wants her students to love and value learning as much as she does. “I am hopeful that I am making a positive difference in the lives of my students and our Rockford community. My ultimate goal is for my students to be proud to say they grew up in Rockford too!”