California Elementary School teacher Jamie Shewmake was recently recognized as a McDonald's Outstanding Educator for 2021.
In a press release from McDonald's about the program, the company said the McDonald's Outstanding Educator award is given to those who "show ultimate dedication to their students and contribute to the improvement of education in our most challenging times."
After two decades working in education, Shewmake said it is a great honor to be chosen for this award and that she felt fortunate for the opportunity. Considering the criteria to be nominated the award, Shewmake said she was pleasantly surprised and is very proud to represent California Elementary
"It's a great honor and I feel really fortunate to be chosen," Shewmake said. "(My favorite part of teaching) is building relationships with kids and getting to know their families and their unique personalities. Watching them grow as well — I've been doing this long enough that I have students that are adults now and it's really fun to get to see what they've decided to do and what they've gone on to do in the future."
CES Principal Gary Baker spoke very highly of Shewmake, especially in this aspect of her career. He said in their field, there are three kinds of educators — those that can build strong relationships, those that can develop solid instructional strategies, and individuals who can do both.
"Jamie Shewmake is a rock star in both (categories)," Baker said. "She is one of the most accomplished teachers I've ever been around by far and what is so powerful about that is because it takes a certain personality, a love for kids, the ability to have grace and extend that to students on a day-to-day (basis) is what it takes to be a preschool teacher. To have (those skills) and be a rock star in both at the pre-K level is phenomenal."
Baker said CES educators often speak about building a "house" of sorts for their students and to do it well, their foundation must be strong. With that in mind, he said students are very blessed to be in Shewmake's class because they will be given a strong educational and social foundation.
As a McDonald's Outstanding Educator selection for 2021, Shewmake will also be awarded a $100 Visa gift card for her to put toward her classroom. She said there are a handful of materials she would like to pick up for students, including supplies that emphasize both learning and play among children.
Shewmake said she would like to thank the parents and students she's worked with during the past 22 years for their involvement. She said she is very happy to have been able to educate these children and to be recognized in such a way for it as well.
"I just really appreciate (the community) recognizing me," Shewmake said. "I do try every day to be a light to my students andI strive to make school a fun and enjoyable place for students because a lot of times you get to be that first experience (that a child has) with school and you want it to be a positive one so that their school is a place they look forward to coming to."
Baker said he appreciates all the work that Shewmake has done and that he is very proud to have her be a part of his faculty and staff. He said he is glad that one of California's best is being acknowledged for their work.
"Jamie has worked countless hours to ensure that it's the best educational environment and the safest environment for our kids every single day," Baker said. "There's not a lot of public moments where teachers are rewarded, so it's amazing that this whole program is here and it's amazing that one of our own got that opportunity."