DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Meshonda Cole has a teaching technique: Expect greatness. When kids complain about math being boring, Cole applies a math equation to a student’s interest.
“What’s that candy you like so much?,” Cole asks 12 year old Tyler Templos. “How much of it can you buy with the money you have left in your budget?”
Cole is a math teacher for Dallas ISD’s Kennedy-Curry Middle School. A year ago, the school sat vacant. Students were scattered around the district.
The campus formerly belonged to the now defunct Wilmer-Hutchins School District. Cole is the symbol of how much the school has achieved, and the level of progress students are making.
The district named her Teacher of the Year on Tuesday, and tenacity and toughness are her two calling cards.
“Yes, I fuss at them because I care. I want them to be successful”, Cole says of her students.
Ninety percent of her sixth grade math students pass state required tests. Cole advocates, including student Templos, say the teacher is distinctive.
“She tells us you’re good in math, you’re not a quitter. She fusses at us, because she cares about us,” Templos said.
Encouragement, high expectations, and stern reinforcement is part of Cole’s teaching pattern.
The math instructor began her career with DISD in 2002.
Growing up in the East Texas town of Gilmer, Cole is the first in her family to graduate from college. Judges determined her teaching skill level, coupled with her passion for children became the perfect equation for the annual teacher award.
What those judges may not have known is that Cole encouraged her kids while they were writing letters of encouragement to her.
The teacher’s mother is dying. Her terminal illness has caused Cole to miss days in the classroom. But the students committed themselves to working harder on her behalf.
“As soon as they found out, they let me know how much they cared,” she said.
Cole says she wants her kids to know they can succeed at any task, including math. But the key is letting students problem solve and brainstorm.
“These kids are doing it, and I know they can do it,” she said.