A Hamilton school teacher and her innovative approach to teaching now has her among the finalists for a regional teaching award.
Kiara Berry, a first grade instructor at Hamilton’s Fairwood Elementary, caught the judges’ attention for the annual Gold Star and The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati top teacher contest for both her in-classroom passion and her just published book designed to inspire young students everywhere.
Berry, author of “Which Cape Will I Wear Today,” said she was surprised by her recent finalist nomination.
“I was really shocked. I didn’t even know I was nominated.”
“I’m really into positive affirmations and social and emotional learning in my classroom,” said the University of Dayton graduate now in her fifth year of teaching, her second with Hamilton Schools.
One of her long-time hobbies is creating and collecting affirming sayings to motivate children and she came to realize a self-published book might be the best vehicle to spread that sort of positivism.
“I realized I could be sharing my passion for social and emotional learning with more kids and reach more kids than just those in my classroom,” she said of the illustrated children’s book, which has been available for public purchase since May 2022.
Jennifer Wolf said Berry is deserving of being among the top 10 finalists in southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky.
“Fairwood is extremely lucky to have Mrs. Kiara Berry as a first-grade teacher. Mrs. Berry genuinely cares for her students and her students know this. When you walk into her classroom you can feel the warmth and kids are happy,” said Wolf.
“Mrs. Berry is always bringing in creative and innovative ways to teach and engage her students. “Kiara’s reach goes beyond her classroom.”
The top winner, who will be chosen in April, gets a $1,000 grant for their classroom plus a $500 donation to their school, according to Gold Star officials, whom have conducted the yearly contest for the last four years.
Gold Star President and CEO, Roger David, said the company is proud to showcase some of the best, local teaching talent.
“With so many amazing educators in our region, we knew that we needed to honor them in a special way,” said David.
“Being able to recognize the efforts of these educators is one of those opportunities we, along with partners at The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, are grateful for every year. And watching this competition grow bigger and better every year has been amazing and we look forward to honoring another round of fantastic educators again this spring.”
To learn more about Berry’s book, go to her website at www.cultivatingpositiveminds.com.
The public is eligible to vote at Gold Star’s contest link at www.goldstarchili.com/goldstarteacher.
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