If you ask Shalisha Kemp why she loves teaching, she’ll tell you it’s because of her “Peter Pan mindset.”
“You have to think like a child to reach out to children, to be able to guide them, to lead them to greater success in adulthood,” Kemp said.
Whatever it may be that sets her apart, it is certainly working.
The second-grade teacher at The Rice School was named HISD’s Teacher of the Month for March, with a surprise parade at her school.
Surrounded by her principal, fellow teachers, and students—both current and former—Kemp stood in front of the building, expecting a parade recognizing the school being a Texas Honor Roll School. But as the first car pulled up, Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan was inside, waving pompoms and holding a sign congratulating Kemp.
Dr. Lathan says the choice to select Kemp was obvious, since her dedication goes beyond the classroom.
“She’s doing a phenomenal job. Even during the recent winter storm, she took families into her home to support them, so they would have water, they would have food, they would have power,” Lathan said. “She’s a leader among her peers, and she’s done a phenomenal job here at The Rice School.”
Kemp—a product of HISD herself—has been a teacher with the district for nearly a decade, with the last three years at The Rice School. During her first year with the campus, she was named Rookie Teacher of the Year. Her coworkers say that she is passionate for project-based learning, such as a recent one that highlighted students’ experiences with the winter storm in February.
“It is clearly obvious that she has a passion for helping all children learn,” Principal Kimberly Hobbs said. “She possesses a positive, can-do attitude. She is flexible and resilient. She is skillful and committed to providing the best education for her students.”
As the March Teacher of the Month, Kemp was also gifted a brand-new Hyundai Sonata to drive for the month from Sterling McCall Group. But even with all the attention, Kemp says she does it all for the love of the job.
“As a teacher you don’t expect to have so much recognition, because you do what you do because you love it,” Kemp said.
And ask Kemp what she plans to do to celebrate, the answer is simple.
“Teach,” she said excitedly, a smile apparent even under her mask. “Today will be my first day of tutorials, so I’ll be teaching until about 7 this evening. I’m so excited about that.”