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Educator of the Year Travell Green Spotlight: impacting students beyond the classroom

“Regardless of where you come from, regardless of where you are in life if you believe in yourself, put God first and be willing to go out of your way to help others, then God will allow good things to happen to you and your life.”

And good things certainly happened to Travell Green, fourth grade teacher at William Jefferson Clinton Primary, Monday night when he was named Educator of the Year at the Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce 2021 Annual Meeting.

Green, who is often referred to by his students as “Preacher,” won last night for being a hardworking, trusting, and caring teacher who understands the importance in building strong relationships, according to his nomination letter read by Mandy Townsend, the 2020 Educator of the Year, Monday night.

“[He] has a natural authentic, conversational way of teaching and puts the academic, social and emotional needs of students above all else,” the letter read. “He goes above and beyond to ensure student engagement using various strategies such as repetitive language, poetry, song and even an occasional rap.”

Green was told by Executive Director of the Hope/Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce Beckie Moore that he was supposed to be giving a speech that night on behalf of one of his colleagues, so he was in for quite the shock when he found out that he won Educator of the Year.

“I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude when I found out that I won educator of the year,” Green said.

Green grew up in the Arkansas side of Texarkana and moved to Nashville, Arkansas when he was in Jr. High School. He says he wanted to become a teacher because of his father, who was a football and basketball coach for 40 years; 10 years in Texarkana and 30 in Nashville.

“It allowed me an opportunity to learn from him and see the kind of impact he made in the lives of his players,” Green said. “It made me want to venture out and kind of do the same thing.”

However, after God, family is the most important thing to Green and seeing the late nights his father had to stay away from him and his family while coaching games, he couldn’t do the same to his wife and children.

“I realized that I didn’t want to take that time away from my family,” he said. “I wanted to be in education but not necessarily a coach because he had a lot of long nights and a lot of long evenings where we weren’t able to spend a lot of time together. We kind of had to sacrifice a lot of things to be the coach that he was.”

Green graduated from the University off Arkansas-Hope in 2005 with an AA in General Education, graduated from Kaplan University in 2017 with a BS in Human Services and finally graduated from Southern Arkansas University in 2020 with his MA in Education. Green began teaching in 2017 and says that another factor that drove him to become a teacher was the lack of diversity he saw from the teachers he had in his youth.

“Growing up, I didn’t really see a lot of teachers in the classroom that resembled me,” he said. “I wanted to let children of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds know that if I can do it, anyone can do it. I wanted to venture out to have the opportunity to prove to people that regardless of where you come from, if you put your mind to something, you can do it.”

Throughout his four years of teaching, Green says that having students use what he’s taught in the classroom outside of his classroom has been the most rewarding part.

“When a parent or a student comes back to me after the year’s ended and they’ve told me something that was taught, maybe it was a life lesson or an actual lesson from the class room, and that they remember that years later is so rewarding to me as a teacher,” he said. “It means a lot to me to know that something that I taught didn’t just go in one ear and out the other. They retained it. Anytime someone takes the time to retain something that was said to them it shows me that what I said meant a lot to them as well.”

Recently, Green had a mother of a student he had last year come into his classroom to tell him the impact he had on her daughter.

“Here recently I had a parent stop me in the hallway and she explained to me that her daughter was very timid and very shy before she came to my classroom,” he said. “This past year, after being in my classroom, she’s no longer timid, no longer shy, and she’s no longer afraid because I was able to coach her and to encourage her to believe in herself. Her mom told me that she stood in front of the class, gave a speech and after it was over she told her mom that she was able to do that because of what she learned in my classroom.”

Green has one lesson for kids that he wants ingrained in their minds.

“I want every child to know to not doubt yourself, to believe in yourself that you can do anything that you put your mind to.”

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