Innovation, Approachability Marks of Excellence for Juvenile Justice’s Teacher of the Year

Author: Laura J. Leonard

A teacher is someone that not only teaches her students but inspires, transforms, prepares and encourages them to do more, be more.

That’s why Janet Dalton, math teacher at Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center, was inspired to enter the profession. She had a third grade teacher who made everyone in her class work together as a team and contribute accordingly.

Janet Dalton, pictured above with Deputy Secretary for Juvenile Justice William Lassiter, was named Juvenile Justice's Teacher of the Year.It’s what she hopes to pass along to her students, and why she was named this year’s Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year.

“Ms. Dalton is very involved in the day-to-day activities and always willing to offer assistance to anyone who needs it,” said Satish Madho, principal at Stonewall Jackson YDC. “She has found innovative ways to engage her students and encourage them to reach their maximum potential. She designs projects and engrosses students in math games and lessons to keep them engaged and wanting to learn math. She focuses on each child and their needs. Ms. Dalton’s approach, pleasant persona, willingness to go the extra mile, ability to provide opportunities for her students and her approachable demeanor exemplifies the traits of a career teacher.”

As Teacher of the Year, Dalton received a plaque, paid attendance to a national conference of her choice and $500 toward school supplies.

Each Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice youth development center and detention center principal nominates one teacher per facility as its Teacher of the Year. The nominee must provide an essay and selection criteria evidence, and his or her supervisor and a student must also submit supporting statements. An independent panel reviews all of the nominees’ applications and determines the award recipient.

This year, Dalton encouraged her students to go above and beyond – and it paid off.

Having, on average, eight students per class allows Dalton to get to know her students. It is because of knowing their capabilities that she found different ways to get and hold their attention. One of the ways led two of her students to participating in a statewide math competition.

Doing projects and assessments to determine height, weight or angles are part of math lessons. For five of her students, those projects led to evaluation by Appalachian State University judges for the Western Region Math Fair. One of the students was selected to participate at the state level, where he earned honorable mention.

The top two students were invited to Raleigh to DPS’ senior management to explain and present their projects. Secretary Erik A. Hooks presented the students with an award of excellence. This opportunity gave the students a chance to see law enforcement in a supportive role and gain confidence in themselves and their ability to excel in school.

“Ms. Dalton has truly made learning here at Stonewall Jackson fun and easy,” said one of Dalton’s math students. “Because of Ms. Dalton’s diligence and her unbiased willingness to teach us and that she cares, has truly opened my eyes and made a huge impact on my life. She made me believe that learning math and challenging myself is critical to becoming successful. Ms. Dalton brought the best out of me and taught me to reach for the stars.”

Dalton, who taught in low-income public schools for 12 years, has been at Stonewall Jackson YDC for three years. As an Appalachian State University alumna, she came to Stonewall Jackson YDC as a math teacher.

“I enjoy finding new and innovative ways to use manipulatives in the classroom, whether it be bottle caps to measuring tools to algebra tiles,” said Dalton. “I provide students with many opportunities to explore the higher level questions that are asked. I use as many research-based and cutting edge methods and materials as possible to give me the best chance to reach all of my students.”

Being at Stonewall Jackson YDC allows Dalton to get to know the students and their families, and help both progress and be successful.

“Success can be measured in many ways,” said Dalton. “When you see one of your students who has cerebral palsy be able to write her name for the first time, you know you’ve witnessed success. It’s the reason why I teach: to see the light bulb go off … to see students believe in themselves and do something successful.”

Related Topics: