AUSTIN, Texas – Oct. 25, 2016 – PeopleAdmin, a leader in talent management software for K-12 and higher education, announced the latest honoree of its Inspired2Educate recognition program. Jami Witherell, a third- and fourth-grade looping teacher at Newton School in Greenfield, Mass., shared the story of how her fifth-grade teacher made her feel special, smart and loved when she needed it most.
When Witherell started the fifth grade, she was changing schools for the third time in five years. Confronted with a new school and new teachers, difficulties at home, and no friends to lean on, she was terrified, “which made entering Mrs. Willard’s room one of the greatest surprises of my young life,” she wrote in her Inspired2Educate submission.
“She was young, in her first few years of teaching, and had a smile that has remained unchanged after all these years. She was my miracle,” Witherell continued. “She believed in me for the entire school year when I was completely unable and ill-equipped to do so myself. I was profoundly shaped and impacted by her nurture, her kindness and her ability to really see me.”
Witherell carries on Mrs. Willard’s legacy by showing care, praise and individualized attention to her 17 “high-need” students — many of whom, like Witherell, have experienced trauma.
“There’s no work more noble than giving back to your community and no better way to honor the people who support you than by continuing their good work,” said Matt Keenan, chief revenue officer at PeopleAdmin, during the award presentation in front of third- and fourth-grade teachers and students yesterday. “We’re proud to recognize Ms. Witherell’s heart-warming story of overcoming adversity and demonstrating there’s no limit to what kids can do when they have a caring adult who believes in them and empowers them to believe in themselves.”
The Inspired2Educate award includes a $1,000 scholarship for Witherell and $1,000 for Newton School, the second scholarship fund Witherell has earned for the school this academic year. She’s passionate about supporting students and communities in need through education.
“I would love to see a shift where we focus on the communities that need support and support them from the ground up, from the classroom up,” Witherell said. “Schools are no longer just places to go to learn — they are a safe haven for children. Teachers are not just people at the front of the classroom — they are the people on the sidelines supporting their students’ extracurricular endeavors. Teaching is more than just the job of teaching a curriculum. I know that because 25 years ago a teacher helped change my life, and when lives change, so do communities.”