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Pinellas 2011 Outstanding Educator nominee: Vicki Meredith, Woodlawn Elementary

Woodlawn Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Vicki Meredith checks the fraction work of Michael Williams, 12.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

Woodlawn Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Vicki Meredith checks the fraction work of Michael Williams, 12.

Region 1 | Vicki Meredith, 61

School: Woodlawn Elementary, St. Petersburg

Grade: 5

Subject: Math and writing

Education: Bachelor's degree in elementary education, Eastern Illinois University; master's in elementary education, University of South Florida

Woodlawn Elementary can be a challenging school.

Vicki Meredith said she saw it in the halls, in her classroom, through her kids' actions. They were not kind, they didn't focus on work and they spent their time being rude to each other.

They didn't know what kindness looked like or felt like. So, she stepped in.

"I knew I had to do something to teach these kids," said Meredith, a 40-year teaching veteran.

She created "The Kindness Revolution" to promote kindness and peace through the students of her fifth-grade class. They make posters for the school, reflect on kindness in their journals and make smiley cards. If you get a smiley card from a peer in school, you sign it and pass it on to someone else so they can have a smile.

"Now, there's so much love going on in the classroom," Meredith said.

She was nominated for the Outstanding Educator of the Year award by her principal, Karen Russell.

"I have such a passion for teaching," Meredith said.

Her students also try to help other students at Woodlawn, making business cards for tutoring and delivering them to teachers to hand out.

And Meredith has "family meetings" in her class, a time when she comes together with her students to talk about different acts of kindness or anything else the students want to discuss.

"She has given the kids a special sense of closeness and family ties," said Kim Shone, whose daughter is in Meredith's class.

"This (award) would be a lifetime achievement for her because teaching has been her lifetime commitment," added Shone.

Sabrina Rocco, Times staff writer

The 2011 Outstanding Educator will be chosen from six nominees and announced Tuesday.

Meet six inspiring teachers

Meet the six finalists for Pinellas County's 2011 Outstanding Educator award. The winner will be announced Tuesday at a ceremony at Ruth Eckerd Hall. One is beloved by her students because she makes learning fun. Another helps struggling students succeed. The passion one of them has for teaching has kept her in the classroom for 40 years. Two of them knew they wanted to be teachers all along, playing "school" when they were young. And still another spends her time mentoring future teachers at the University of South Florida. Five teach at elementaries, one at a middle school. They were nominated by their principals and colleagues with words like "dedicated" and "positive" and "creative" and "inspiring."

Pinellas 2011 Outstanding Educator nominee: Vicki Meredith, Woodlawn Elementary 02/26/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 25, 2011 3:52pm]
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