2018 Blackboard Award Honoree: Raina Gilchrist

Raina Gilchrist

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2018 Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Raina Gilchrist
Grade 5, Spanish & English Head Classroom
Avenues: The World School

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as
a teacher.

My second year as a teaching assistant, I was with a head teacher who was quite rigid and closed-minded, only allowing me to teach the grammar curriculum of grade 4. I incorporated music, movement, and art into my lessons and shared my passion for linguistics. It was even sweeter when I became a head teacher for the first time the next year. I distinctly remember the warm feeling that filled my heart and the tears that began to fill my eyes that day.

Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.

I moved to grade 5 so that I could write the Spanish curriculum. I was excited and overwhelmed about developing a Spanish curriculum alongside an English curriculum that was completely unfamiliar to me. We decided that our first unit would be biographies. As we began the unit, the students and I were getting a little bored. I realized that the students should become their characters. Not only would this solve our No. 1 goal for immersion, but it would be a great motivator for the students!

Raina Gilchrist with President of Family Media Jonathan Moore. Photo by Daniel S. Burnstein.

What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated and hard-working educator?

I’m a teacher because I love working, playing, thinking, sharing, and being with my students. There is no greater feeling than witnessing that “ah-ha” moment with a student. Being part of something as profound as educating young minds is such an inspiring task. I know that my drive comes partially from my competitive nature, but I also know that my dedication comes from knowing that no matter how great I make something, my kids will make it even greater.

What do you love about your school?

Every morning, I’m greeted by our incredible custodians, security guards, and chefs who take phenomenal care of our building and have been part of our classroom community. My colleagues are inspiring on many levels. While it’s exhausting work, teaching students in Spanish and seeing their progress is
truly remarkable. Avenues has made a strong commitment to this part of their mission and I’m honored to be a part of their school.