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published on 11/22/2005

Carol Downs Wins Gifted Teacher of the Year

By Sophie Workman-Johnson
Fourth Grader, Nolan Elementary School

Carol Downs with Students
Recently, Mrs. Carol Downs, the advanced class teacher at Nolan Elementary School, was named Teacher of the Year by the Tennessee Association for the Gifted. She ceased being a kindergarten and first grade teacher in the year 1982. Then she resumed her teaching career in 1999 and decided to educate elementary aged students at Nolan with the subjects mathematics and reading.

Students describe Mrs. Downs as being open-minded and a great listener. Those qualities are essential for effective teaching. She has a good relationship with her students. Several of them describe what they find fun and challenging about Mrs. Downs’ classes.

Lawson Powers, a fourth-grade student in both math and reading classes, says, “The thing that makes Mrs. Downs special is the fun projects she lets us do. I think designing a McDonald’s bag for our book report was fun, and the idea of doing photography sounds good, too.”

Marlena Johnston, a fifth-grader, admires Mrs.Downs most for her sense of humor. She finds the classes challenging because, “Mrs. Downs assigns harder work that takes more thought.”

Maddie Workman-Johnson graduated from Nolan in 2004, and was a student of Mrs. Downs for five years. She remembers the “How-To” project, in which the students learned to organize thoughts by describing a procedure, as being fun. “I hated memorizing poetry, but it prepared me for public speaking.”

Forest Sharp is another graduate from Mrs. Downs’ gifted program. “The most interesting project I ever did was the wax museum, where we dressed up like characters from biographies we read.”

Mrs. Downs encourages students to combine original artwork and writing in fun book report projects. Fourth grade reading students participate in “Literacy through Photography”. Math students play chess, organize a plan for spending a million dollars, and play the stock market game. In fifth grade, they build roller coasters.

Mrs. Downs says, “Leaving the business world to return to the classroom in 1999 has been very rewarding. I am blessed to teach at a school where the administration and staff work with me to make the gifted program a success. Since assuming responsibility for the gifted program, I have become aware of the special needs of gifted children and the need to promote the merits of gifted programming. Hopefully, I’m making a contribution to the world by helping these children learn to utilize their gifts. I am honored to have been named Teacher of the Year by the Tennessee Association for the Gifted.”

Congratulations, Mrs. Downs for winning this well-deserved award, and thank you for teaching all your students so much!
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