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Renee Carey was recently announced as the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year within Sweetwater Intermediate School (SIS) for Sweetwater ISD.
For the past eleven years, Carey has been with the school district, with a total of 16 years of teaching under her belt. Carey currently serves as a 4th grade teacher.
She earned her Bachelor of Science degree (multidisciplinary studies with an emphasis in Language Arts) from McMurry University and her Master's degree in Counseling from Sul Ross State University. Carey also has certification for teaching ESL (English as a second language), gifted and talented and as a school counselor.
Carey has been a part of many groups, including the Texas Counselors Association (TCA) and the Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA). She has served on the District and Campus councils and has also been a SHS (Sweetwater High School) Choral Booster Club officer.
In addition, she has been on the Textbook Committee, the Local Assessment Committee and a Rising Star Coordinator. Carey has also served as a UIL coach, a mentor teacher and has supervised interns for the SHS Teacher Program.
Furthermore, Carey has been a school bus driver for 16 years, a helper and chauffeur for the SIS jump rope team for 11 years and a summer school helper for a decade.
Her community involvement includes being a member of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Abilene and working with the SHS Choral Booster Club. She has been a participating parent for the SHS girls' softball team, a team mom for Sweetwater Little League and the Blowout food committee.
Carey has additionally collected food for the Goodfellows and Ben Richey Boys' Ranch groups.
As a fifth generation teacher, Carey said her decision to join the profession wasn't a surprise to her family. It was a dream from childhood that was instilled when she received a chalkboard from her grandparents as a first grader.
"I can remember spending hours â€˜playing schoolâ€™ with my two little brothers," Carey recalled.
But while teaching is "definitely in [her] blood," she credits her mother--who isn't a school teacher--for being a great influence to her teaching. Teaching a person how to help himself and the care and concern her mother displays to others has been passed on to Carey herself, in order to look within a student's heart and establish deep ties with her students.
The idea of family, however, also shows up in Carey's classroom each year, as she--their "mom at school"--tells her students--her "babies"--from day one that the class is one big family unit that will be with her even more than her own children.
"I use this precious time with my students to teach, push, and encourage them to be all that they can be," she said. "I strive to treat every child the way I would want my own children to be treated."
Throughout the school year, Carey knows her class will endure highs, lows and successes together. She also admits to the struggle of giving up the relationships and bonds she's made with her students on that final class day.
"Teaching school is not only about mastering and teaching a curriculum; it is about nurturing and meeting the needs of the children in your classroom."
Carey also looks ahead to what's in store for her teaching career. With her recent completion of her Master's degree in School Counseling, she hopes for more opportunities to make an impact on students.
"I have truly been blessed to have spent the last 16 years of my life having the opportunity to get to know and love so many children," she said. "Although teaching is a very demanding and sometimes difficult job, the benefits are enormous."