Rising from extreme poverty in a single-parent household to become the first in her family to graduate high school—much less complete an advanced college degree—Tracy Valentine is the kind of educator who helps kids emerge from difficult situations to attain success. When it comes to achievement, Valentine assumes all responsibility for what happens in her classroom at Bragg Elementary School in West Memphis, AR. Not only do her students tout marked improvement in test scores, but her fellow instructors also credit Valentine for much of Bragg’s impressive performance. Fifth-grade literacy performance scores totaled 81 percent, compared to the state average of 68 percent.
Characterized by her focus on small group learning and differentiated instruction, Valentine employs a “no excuses” approach in her classroom. She consciously showcases student achievement and makes an effort to get kids involved. She is particularly heralded for incorporating real-world learning by finding news articles that are directly relevant to her students and bringing them out of their shells via open-response prompts.
Additionally, Valentine has demonstrated strong leadership at the school level, sponsoring numerous extracurricular activities and being active on the school’s literacy and math committees. She even steps in as the school’s instructional leader when the principal is out of the building. Valentine sponsors the school’s honor society and serves as a mentor to students at two community colleges—all shining examples of how she goes above and beyond for academic excellence.
2002 B.S. Degree Elementary Education
2005 M.S. Degree: Elementary Education
2009 National Board Certified Teacher
2009 Arkansas Teacher Leadership Academy
2007 Bragg Elementary: Teacher of the Year
2010 Vacation Bible School Teacher Appreciation
2010 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award
2003 In House Presentation: Reading First & No Child Left Behind