By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
As they say, it’s an honor to be nominated.
Atlantis Charter School teacher and North Attleborough resident Samantha McKee was recently named a semifinalist for 2023 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, and while she didn’t make the finals, she expressed gratitude to her principal for being given the chance.
McKee joked that she’s not a fan of the spotlight—ironic, because her job requires her to be front and center. Following her nomination last year, she sent her application for the program.
“I tried to put my heart and soul into it,” said McKee. “They (the principal) saw something they liked. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am.”
In a statement, Atlantis Lower School Principal Corrie Marchand described McKee’s ability to engage with students, utilize technology, and share best practices as “unmatched and unprecedented.”
“She greets her students with music, challenges, and a vast array of online programs that they navigate seamlessly thanks to her teaching and modeling,” said Marchand. “Her students are growing and learning despite the many challenges they face, and that is due to her dedication. We are fortunate to have her on our staff.”
McKee joined the Atlantis School as a first-grade teacher in 2016 through Teach for America and moved to second grade in 2017. Her upbringing was a varied one, as she’s been in public, private, and homeschool environments over the years. Growing up, she saw the role school could be in a child’s life.
“Being an educator was the most impactful job, I feel,” she said.
McKee is fluent in English and Spanish and is in the process of completing her Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and a Graduate Bilingual Education Certificate. She said that students who are English Language Learners (ELLs) have their own cultural backgrounds and her job is to make sure they get the knowledge they need when entering a new school. She helps to create building blocks between her and the parents.
“Every single family that I’ve worked with is incredibly supportive,” she said. “It’s been great partnering with all my families this year.”
McKee’s mantra in the classroom is “Practice Makes Progress,” a play on the adage “Practice Makes Perfect.” McKee chose this because even though she’s a perfectionist, it exactly didn’t set herself up for success. Instead, she wants students to develop the mindset of completing part of the goal to equate succeeding.
“It made me give up, and I saw it with my kids,” she said. “”Kids develop at different rates. Success looks different for every kid.”