At any given moment, one would find some of her pupils completing set tasks on a computer while others are hard at work on finishing assigned reading materials. Still, another group of her charges might be reading in a small group.
“I am fortunate to work with fellow educators and we create a variety of unique learning opportunities,” said Slaton. “The average day includes me being a teacher, a coach and a friend.”
Such is working life for Slaton, recently named Dunwoody Elementary School 2012-13 Teacher of the Year.
Slaton has spent the entirety of her 22-year career teaching in DeKalb County.
She entered the profession after having finished her studies at Clark Atlanta University — later earning a graduate degree from Central Michigan.
Slaton tabbed her desire to have a “positive impact on others” as the driving force behind her decision to become an educator.
“I enjoy working with children. Watching them develop their love of exploring and reaching goals enriches my life as much as I hope it does theirs,” said Slaton. “Teaching allows me to make a difference in the greater society, as those I have touched take with them a thirst for knowledge and sense that they, too, can make a difference.”
Going about the business of carrying out her life’s calling officially begins at around 5:45 a.m. each weekday. Slaton prefers to arrive on campus early to prepare for the day ahead.
Her approach to teaching is crafted to be flexible enough to accommodate her students’ array of learning styles. Acknowledging the power of and embracing the written word — and guiding a classroom of impressionable pupils to do the same — are the cornerstones of this educator’s philosophy.
“My personal belief is that if you can teach a child to read and to enjoy reading, that you have opened up the world to them,” Slaton said. “As they read they realize that they can achieve their goals and conquer any obstacle.”
The inherent challenges and rewards of carrying out one’s classroom duties in an increasingly digitized and diverse world are not lost on Dunwoody Elementary’s top teacher.
In other words, things appear to be a lot more interesting than, say, Slaton’s own time in second-grade.
“The second grader of 2013 has more real-life experience and background knowledge that they bring to the table with them,” said Slaton. “They are more compassionate and tolerant of others. The second grader of 2013 has more tools to help them problem solve … and knows how to access more information other than just using a book.”