We Congratulate Carolyn Hearns!
Dothan Preparatory Academy
“Ms. Hearns…is so great,” says Kimberly Ann. “[She is] great with communication and puts so much thought into her students.”
Carolyn Hearns is the December 2021 Teacher of the Month for Wiregrass Parents. She is the Special Education teacher in an Autism Unit at Dothan Preparatory Academy where she teaches all subjects, as well as Functional and Life Skills and Transition classes.
Hearns got her start in education as a Parental Involvement Specialist, but that took her out of the school setting, and she quickly realized she missed being around the students. So, she started substitute teaching and fell in love with being in the classroom. That was nearly 25 years ago.
“When I was growing up, I used to play school in my room by myself. I would line up chairs and pretend to be teaching,” Hearns says. “I think I liked the way my teachers made me feel. They seemed to have the power with just a smile to make things seem that they would be okay.”
Hearns says she was always drawn to the at-risk students and those with disabilities.
“I just wanted to find new ways to help them learn and to motivate them to continue learning.”
Hearns strives to keep learning fun and interesting, incorporating music and lots of opportunities to get moving. She makes real-life connections to help her students better understand content and models the motivation and excitement she wants from her students.
In turn, Hearns says her students keep her motivated.
“When they get off the bus or out of their cars, I always greet them with “Good Morning!” Usually I receive a big smile in return. It’s the smiles and the genuineness that motivates me.”
She says the most rewarding thing about being a teacher is knowing she is a part of shaping lives and hopefully giving her students skills to be independent.
“It is important to me to always build a student’s self-esteem and give them coping skills needed to succeed in life,” Hearns says.
“Working with students with various disabilities makes me want to help each student be the best that they can be according to their different and unique abilities. It is also about focusing on what my students can do and not looking at limitations.”
She also wants her students to learn kindness, something she says seems simple but isn’t always taught or demonstrated.
“True kindness toward others can change the world, one kind act at a time.”
Carolyn Hearns received her B.S. in Rehabilitative Counseling from Florida State University and received her Special Education Teaching Certification and Masters from National University. She has one daughter, Teneshia Jackson Warner.