Original Post by: BecauseofThemWeCan
A little sunshine to make you smile today!
Johnathon Hines, an Atlanta Pre-K Teacher, just became the first African American man to win Pre-K Teacher of the Year in Georgia.
Hines is a teacher at Barack H. Obama Elementary Magnet School of Technology in Atlanta, GA, the first public school in Dekalb County named for our forever President.
Hines is being honored for demonstrating excellence in the classroom and for being one of the best Pre-K Teachers in the state according to Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs of the Bright From The Start: GA Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).
The 4th year teacher often posts videos of his unique teaching style to his social media page, reading books like “Llama Llama Trick or Treat” over booming rap beats or drilling the kids on the continents while encouraging them to break out their best dance moves.
While studies have shown that children learn best through play, the commitment Mr. Hines has for his little ones goes far beyond the scope of good teaching tools.
Hines spoke exclusively to BOTWC saying that he didn’t always aspire to be a teacher. “My vision was always to be a professional basketball player, not a teacher, [but] they say if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans,” said Hines.
He started his career playing basketball in college, earning his Bachelor’s Degree of Science and eventually going overseas to play ball. Once he came back home he decided to switch gears. “I felt content that I had reached my personal goal as a professional basketball player, I knew that there was more in store for my life,” Hines told BOTWC. That’s when he decided to go into the teaching field.
He worked hard learning the do’s and don’ts of teaching in the classroom and also how to educate the whole child and soon became a lead teacher. Hines said teaching was “a new calling on [his] life.”
According to DECAL, “Georgia’s Pre-K program is nationally recognized as an exemplary early childhood education program that significantly impacts school readiness skills in language, literacy and math.” Teachers acknowledged by the state must exhibit outstanding success in their implementation of the program. Those named as Teacher of the Year serve as ambassadors for Georgia’s Pre-K program.
Hines said winning the award is surreal. “Winning Pre K Teacher of The Year is one of the biggest milestones of my life. This was definitely an amazing feeling because I didn’t see myself obtaining such a lofty goal. It still seems unreal that I am the Pre K Teacher of The Year for the entire state of Georgia,” he told Because of Them We Can.
Stacy Stepney, Chief Academic Officer for the DeKalb County School District said, “Mr. Hines is an extreme role model for those to come. He doesn’t even know his impact yet.” The assistant principal at the school, Winfred Watts, echoed Stepney’s sentiments saying, “it’s so good to see a man take care of our children the way that [Mr. Hines does].”
With all of the accolades Hines is receiving he still said his primary focus is “[instilling] confidence in [his] students [so] that they truly believe anything is possible.” He believes that with “self confidence [students] will excel in the classroom and in life.”
Congratulations Mr. Hines! Because of you, they can!
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.