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Pam Hinton said her husband was frightened when he received a phone call with her and her entire fourth-grade class shouting something incoherent.
The class at Helmwood Heights Elementary School in Elizabethtown was shouting, “We won.”
Hinton shouted in surprise when school and district officials showed up with balloons at her class to congratulate her being among the winners of the WHAS-11 ExCEL Award. She then told her class the award was for all of them.
The Excellence in Classroom and Educational Leadership designation is awarded in several school systems in the region. It is sponsored by WHAS and E.ON. U.S., a Louisville energy company.
Hinton has worked at Helmwood for eight years as a part-time reading coach and then a fourth-grade teacher. She has taught in other schools and homeschooled her own children.
She said working with her son, who has special needs, showed her how important individual instruction and catering to students’ unique needs and abilities is.
“God has given me this passion,” she said.
Hinton prays for her students every day on the way to work and considers it a great responsibility to be charged with their welfare and education.
Everyone can learn. If a child is struggling, Hinton said it’s her job to alter the way she is teaching.
“Failure is not an option,” she said. “It is not. Each student in my room deserves an education suited for him or her.”
Hinton said the selection process was long after the school’s principal nominated her, with paperwork, an interview and two classroom observations.
The teacher said her classroom is always open, and it’s important her teaching be as good when no one is watching and it is when she’s being observed for an award.
“It’s children,” she said. “You can’t script children.”
Hinton said receiving the award is an honor. She wants to represent her school to the best of her ability.
Hinton said she appreciates the principal’s confidence in her, but everything at the school is a team effort.
“We share ideas, our teachers, our principals, our custodians, everybody,” she said.
Principal Michelle Hart said Hinton always has that team spirit, including with her own class.
She recently had her students help write a grant with her to earn their class an iPad to supplement their learning.
It’s exciting to watch the students because they feel like they get to make decisions in the classroom, Hart said.
“When you go in there, it’s a team,” she said.
Hinton has a unique approach and doesn’t waste a minute of instructional time, Hart said.
“She is a fabulous teacher and extremely deserving of this award,” he said.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAST EIS ExCEL WINNERS