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Griffith Fourth Grade Teacher is District's Teacher of the Year

As staff and students of Griffith Intermediate School gathered for a typical auditorium program, most believed something exciting was about to happen.  FFSD Superintendent Joseph Davis and other district-level administrators were also there to participate in the excitement.  As Superintendent Davis began speaking, it became obvious that the district’s 2020 Teacher of the Year was among the staff, and he soon revealed that person was fourth-grade teacher Robyn Drew. Drew was selected as Teacher of the Year from FFSD teachers who were named building-level Teachers of the Year.

“The entire staff has recognized Mrs. Drew as a leader and motivator. She is often times the first teacher to arrive to school and the last teacher to leave and it shows in her student’s performance and behaviors,” said Ashley Burkett, Griffith school counselor. “Her fourth grade has been recognized for their consistent growth in district assessments and her class has one of the lowest amounts of behavior referrals in the building. These accomplishments are not easy feats but upon entry into her classroom, one can easily see how it happens.”

Drew formally worked at the collegiate level supporting graduate students and coordinating an internship program, and at public schools in Alabama and Tennessee. She and her husband, who are residents of Ferguson, have only been in the St. Louis area for a few years.  She came to the district as a fourth-grade teacher at Lee-Hamilton and during the district’s 2019-20 reorganization chose to be reassigned to Griffith.

“I have been fortunate to work in just about every socio-economic setting possible. The constant found in all of these settings is all children want to learn,” said Drew.  “Yes, ALL! And, all parents want their children to be successful in school, whether they know how to help them or not. As educators, the challenge is to find that light and turn it on!”

Drew admits there are days when there may be a child, for whatever reason, may try to break the circle of positivity that abounds throughout her classroom.  In those instances, she says she makes it her business to pull that child close and have a confident conversation about tomorrow. “I want the child to always know that tomorrow we will start fresh and he/she has the opportunity to start anew. It warms my heart to just think about the smile that spreads over the face of that student when they realize that the love that I feel for them is truly unconditional,” she said. “When I greet them the next morning, the smile of promise and acceptance is on their face and we’re off to a new day. I can think of no other place where the promise of a new day comes with so much possibility for a child than education. As teachers, we hold that daily.”

According to Jill Loyet, the first FFSD principal under which Drew served, Drew is the “real deal” in education. “She understands the deep intricacies and pedagogy of education and she embraces it wholeheartedly and ferociously. When they say teachers should “teach like their hair is on fire”, Mrs. Drew embraces that personification,” said Loyett.  “There is no minute or second lost in Mrs. Drew’s classroom. Students are engaged in deep learning, centered in a restorative circle in which all students are part of the community and there is no “opt out” amongst students.”

Drew’s current principal, Aisha Grace, also has nothing but high praise for her. “As a 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Drew has taught her children how to be critical thinkers. Her innovative approach to teaching has led her class to having some of the highest test scores on the team,” said Grace. “Mrs. Drew teaches from bell to bell and won’t allow anyone, including the principal, interrupt her teaching time. Mrs. Drew allows for her students to challenge each other and even her own thinking! She teaches them to question everything so that they are always analyzing while learning in every subject area.”

 Not one to toot her own horn, Drew says her students are the greatest spokespeople for the work that they do together.  “My students’ accomplishments are the greatest hope for public education. I would submit to any who would care to listen that the little children who sit around our classroom circle have only begun to show what they can do. They want to learn, they love learning and we owe it to them to believe in the promise of that learning for them. As a state, country and society, we must realize that we are only going to be as successful as our public education system,” Drew concluded.

Drew’s selection as the district’s Teacher of the Year qualifies her to be a candidate for the Missouri Teacher of the Year.