YES Prep Public Schools
Vanessa Charles
Vanessa Charles accepts TIA Designation Award; August 2023

The life lasting impact of a great teacher 

It's ironic that my journey to YES Prep as a teacher began with my own challenging experience as a student. Throughout my academic years, I felt like I was constantly falling behind, convinced I could never measure up to my peers. School felt like my personal kryptonite, draining my confidence and enthusiasm for learning. But then, everything changed in the third grade when I met Mrs. Atkinson. 

She became my hero, my kryptonite cure. With unwavering patience and belief, she pushed me beyond my perceived limitations, igniting a fire in me to strive for more. Although I still had to work harder than some classmates, Mrs. Atkinson's faith in me planted a seed of possibility. Inspired by her transformative impact, I knew I wanted to pay it forward and become a source of inspiration for students facing similar struggles. 

This pivotal moment led me to pursue a career in teaching, and YES Prep became the ideal platform to fulfill my aspirations.  

Here, I could create a nurturing environment where every child feels valued, supported and empowered to reach their full potential. It's an honor to witness the spark of curiosity ignited in their eyes, to see them overcome challenges and to celebrate their victories – both big and small. 

Demystifying Greatness: The keys to unlocking student potential 

One of the key ingredients in my success as a pre-K teacher is fostering a positive and inclusive classroom environment. Every child deserves to feel safe, loved and encouraged to express themselves freely. To achieve this, I establish clear routines and expectations, providing a sense of security and structure for young learners. Additionally, I incorporate a variety of engaging and developmentally appropriate activities, catering to diverse learning styles and interests. 

Building transformative relationships: The power of connection 

My journey at YES Prep wouldn't be the same without the incredible people I've encountered. Two individuals have had a profound impact on my career and instilled a deep sense of connection within the school community. 

First, there's my amazing teaching assistant, Cathy Cortez. She's more than just a colleague; she's family. Her infectious positivity, unwavering support and dedication to our students create a collaborative atmosphere that celebrates both our challenges and triumphs. 

Then there's Adalynn Hernandez, a former student who joined my class later in the year. Working with her on a Black History Month presentation, witnessing her dedication and curiosity, reaffirmed the transformative power of teacher-student relationships at YES Prep. 

Becoming a YES Prep teacher isn't just a job; it's a calling. It's about being a beacon of hope, a champion for every child, and a constant reminder that even the smallest kryptonite can be overcome with the right support and encouragement.  

If you're passionate about making a difference in young lives, join me on this incredible journey – become part of the YES Prep family and discover the joy of nurturing future superheroes! 

Vanessa Charles is a pre-K teacher at YES Prep East End Elementary and has been at YES Prep for three years. She leads the pre-K grade level and has earned the highly rigorous Master Teacher TIA Designation. Vanessa shares her leadership and voice as a member of the systemwide Teacher Advisory Council.

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