XENIA — LaShann Latimer sat and listened as a Xenia school district official read the nominating letters for the 2019 Teacher of the Year Award.
“I was thinking, ‘Man, this girl is wonderful. I need to be more like her,’” Latimer said of the winner.
Turns out they were actually talking about Latimer, a fifth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Cox.
“I was shocked,” Latimer said. “I couldn’t not believe it. It was wonderful. I am just excited.”
For being named the inaugural teacher of the year, Latimer received recognition on the district’s website and Facebook page, a check for $1,500 and a standing ovation at the staff meeting.
Nominations were sought last spring as the district wanted a way to show appreciation to teachers. Latimer received 10 letters supporting her to become the award winner. The most benevolent came from former Xenia teacher and principal Marsha Bayless.
“In all of my years as principal, I knew LaShann would become an outstanding teacher,” Bayless wrote. “Her willingness to listen combined with her ability and love for students were clear. LaShann is a natural teacher. She doesn’t have to practice behaviors of a good and loving teacher — she just is! The best measurement of great teaching is the student’s response to the teacher, their participation in the classroom and their educational growth. You’ll find all of these true of LaShann.”
The two have a solid connection as it was Bayless who hired Latimer nearly 30 years ago — the day after she graduated from Central State University.
“It’s been a heaven-sent every since,” Latimer said. “I am the (district’s) first African-American teacher of the year, which I really can’t believe. Trailblazing.”
Comments from other nominating letters include:
“She seems also to truly enjoy her work in the profession, which shows in what she does in the classroom. As in any profession, the first attribute is to have an interest and enjoyment in what you do, because that without a doubt translates in to the performance and the positive results of a given profession. I believe that this can be attributed to LaShann.”
“Ms. Latimer will give you the clothes off her back! She has made a difference is so many lives.”
“She is so down to earth and genuinely cares about her students and their families and shows this buy building inspiring relationships with them.”
“How do you begin to describe someone who has left such a major impact on your children and yourself in so many ways inside and outside of the class? It’s been 11 and nine years respectively since my daughters had Mrs. Latimer as a teacher and they still have a relationship. She stays in contact with them, congratulates them on their successes and provides encouragement and support during difficult times. My oldest daughter always talked about how Mrs. Latimer made it ‘fun to learn.’”
Latimer credited cooperating teacher Gloria Thigpen at McKinley Elementary, where Latimer worked as a student teacher. She also thanked superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton and “all of the people that voted for me.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.