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Northeast teacher wins national award for reading instruction

Lindsay Elks, a fourth-grade teacher at Northeast Elementary School, is the North Carolina winner of the Read 180 Educator of the Year award presented by the learning technology company HMH and is among a select group of 22 teachers honored nationally.

Winners are selected based on demonstrated improvements in reading through the use of the Read 180 curriculum as well as showing exceptional dedication to continuous improvement and academic growth, according to HMH.

Three adults and four fourth graders pose with banner.

Lindsay Elks, center, a fourth-grade teacher at Northeast Elementary School, is celebrated recently for winning the Read 180 Educator of the Year award presented by the learning technology company HMH. Joining in the celebration with a few of Elks’ students are Northeast principal Rashard Curmon and Allison Landry of HMH.

Nominated by Northeast principal Rashard Curmon, Elks said she learned of the award only after she’d become a semifinalist. HMH notified her by email that she’d won.

“I was really surprised. It’s a national award. But when I looked at everyone who had won it and noticed I was the only one in North Carolina, I was completely floored,” Elks said.

 Allison Landry of HMH came to Northeast recently to present the award to Elks and a contingent of her fourth-grade students. “This is a wonderful recognition of her dedication and commitment to remove personal and academic obstacles for her students,” Landry said of Elks.

The past school year was Elks’ second using the Read 180 curriculum, which focuses on phonics instruction for the most challenged readers and on comprehension for students who are more advanced readers. Her Read 180 instruction regularly reached 64 fourth graders at Northeast.

“This is actually a program the Exceptional Children’s Department had done for a couple of years and they’ve seen a lot of success with it, so we moved it to the whole-grade level. We’ve seen the same amount of success,” Elks said.

The teacher’s “enthusiasm and passion for Read 180,” as Elks put it, is based on its effectiveness and its capacity for keeping students engaged.

“I like how interactive it is with the kids. They get to talk a lot and get to interact with one another. They’re reading about real-world situations,” Elks said. “Our first workshop is called ‘Think Big’ and it’s all about inventions and accidental inventions and how if you have a growth mindset and persevere and just keep going you can really make a big difference in the world. The kids really resonate with that.”

Elks just completed her 14th year of teaching, a career that began in a high school social studies classroom and took her to schools in Pitt and Beaufort counties before bringing her to Northeast four years ago. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history education, an elementary education licensure and a master’s degree in instructional technology.

She was a natural for the Read 180 award nomination, according to her principal. “I have had the privilege of witnessing Elk's dedication, passion and effectiveness in inspiring student learning, fostering growth and ensuring fidelity of interventions through the Read 180 program,” Curmon said.

Elks is appreciative. “It’s nice to be recognized,” she said. “It’s nice to see that a program that I really enjoy is recognizing me for the time and effort I put into it.”