Chelsea Pruitt1  

"Do one thing every day that makes you happy." This motto is on a sign in the home of Chelsea Pruitt of Roscoe, who has been teaching English Language Arts at Harlem Middle School for nine years. Several former students nominated her, all mentioning how they enjoyed her sense of humor. Chelsea says, “I strive to make learning fun, even when the content is not enjoyable for them, they are engaged and willing to learn.” Principal Matt Cascio shared in his recommendation letter that she “does an incredible job of being a great team member planning and coordinating the most enjoyable Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports incentive days and trips a middle school student could experience.” Though she often hears in conferences that the students are in middle school and it’s time to step back to let them increase their senses of responsibility, Chelsea’s goal is to remind students’ families how important their support is to their education, even if they don’t always show it. “I believe middle school is when parents/guardians need to step in and be more involved than ever. Their students are going through so many changes physically, mentally, socially and academically” at this time. This is also a prime time to incorporate diversity discussions in the classroom, as these students are starting to form beliefs and opinions about our culture and society. Chelsea learns about each student’s background and encourages them to share and learn about each other in talks about race, gender, religion and socioeconomic status. She insists everyone show respect to each other, to teachers and to anyone they encounter. She makes sure students know that her classroom is a safe place to talk, question and share. Chelsea is also devoted to her school and peers. She’s an active member of the Literacy Team and has been a Professional Development Cadre. She is now pioneering an ELA Summer Skill Building Program in response to seeing the summer math program’s success. Fellow finalist and peer, Flori Zeqiri, tells us that Chelsea is a resource for other teachers; she never lets her students or teachers down. “You will not find a person who has a greater work ethic, who puts her students first, and is a wonderful colleague and collaborator.” Chelsea constantly asks herself how she can provide the best education and knowledge for those around her: the middle school students, the high school dance team she coaches, the children’s church class she writes curriculum for, and of course, her own three children. Remember her motto sign? Chelsea says she feels lucky to say that “one of my ‘things’ is getting to go to work as a middle school teacher. It undoubtedly makes me thankful and overjoyed. It is an unbelievable honor to be entrusted with the lives and education of so many young people every day.”