EC Educator of Excellence Award
She has developed a classroom environment that is welcoming and engaging for students who have never been in school and has seen growth for all her students. Mrs. Garris often will think outside of the box in order to meet all needs. She also makes herself available to help her colleagues by brainstorming strategies and assisting with busy schedules. Her dedication to her students prompted her to conduct a summer camp to help her students keep a positive mindset about school.
Mrs. Garris says:
"I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a little kindergarten student at Elkin Elementary School and never wavered from that aspiration. I attended UNC-Wilmington for a degree in education, then special education fell into my lap when I was the last to sign up for a semester of volunteer hours where middle grades EC math was the only slot left open. After five weeks of volunteering, I changed my major and never looked back. I began teaching in January 2013 in Wilkes County Schools where I was an elementary resource teacher for two and a half years. When looking for a change, I considered a self-contained job at Elkin Elementary School in August 2015. Pam Colbert gave me a chance to start something new where I had a lot to learn and honestly I was scared. Looking back, it was the best personal career decision I have ever made. I met my best friends and taught kids that changed how I look at education. After four years of teaching an extended content classroom, I moved to an intensive resource room for the following three years. In 2021, I began teaching a brand new classroom- EC PreK and Transitional Kindergarten. I can happily say that it's my favorite classroom and age ever!
Every day is new and challenging. Every day, I see new words, new steps, new skills, and it keeps me going. I have the privilege to work with amazing families who love their kids deeply. I get the opportunity to keep these kids for multiple years and continue building my relationship with them. I have the opportunity to work with amazing assistants who keep the classroom rolling, even in the hardest moments. I work with amazing related service providers who are always ready to collaborate and think out of the box. I am blessed to work with amazing EC teachers everyday who desire for students to become as successful and independent as possible. I believe special education is my calling from God and I am honored to fulfill His work with these amazing kids.
My motto for this year is: Teach them, Love them, Watch them grow.
I have personally seen over and over that the importance of relationships with students is immeasurable. In a session at the EC conference a few years ago, I heard "the single most effective behavior intervention is ONE positive adult relationship." I strive to be that one person for any number of kids- and that involves LOVE. I love my students as if they were my own kids and remind them daily. I remind their parents that I love them also. After the teaching and loving happens, their growth is unimaginable and so rewarding".
Elkin City Schools recognizes and appreciates the work of Cameron Garris and her continued desire to see students grow and learn.