Mrs. Dion Lucas became an educator to teach the future leaders of America.
If there’s a day she doesn’t tell her husband, “I’m off to teach the future leaders of America…” before logging on to teach, he will remind her by asking, “Isn’t this school day missing something?!”
More than a motto
While Mrs. Lucas has been in the teaching profession since 2004 both in-person and virtually - it is apparent as soon as Mrs. Lucas starts talking that I am in the Zoom presence of a very passionate educator. She is not someone who stumbled into the profession like so many of us have (myself included) and straight away I can tell she IS the job. So, it didn’t surprise me to learn that she is also a mentor teacher and in addition to helping student learners, she loves helping guide new talent entering the teaching profession.
Whatsmore, she sees the value of reciprocal learning alongside new teachers. She mentions that while she brings experience and background knowledge into the field, there is no shortage of innovation and new ideas amongst her mentees and peers.
Mrs. Lucas was trained well before the pandemic as a virtual teacher through National Virtual Teacher Association (NVTA) certification and still has a deep interest in the pairings of education and technology. She believes it's her background as a student athlete that made her willing to take risks and apply these new technologies to her own experiences as an educator. She’s not afraid to try something new or collaborate with others, and she encourages any teachers (especially those coming from a brick-and-mortar background) to ask questions.
“I know it can be intimidating, but we got to get teachers to think along the same lines as our students - you’re not a failure if you don’t know something. You’re not a failure if you try something once and it doesn’t exactly work outright. We’re all learners - and that’s okay.”
Ever the teacher, she excitedly begins to discuss and educate me on ways virtual teachers - especially those with brick-and-mortar backgrounds - can start to bring in the same kinds of engaging activities they had in real life with rotating breakout rooms, poll features, music as timers, fun visual content, and building social connections.
If teachers want to learn more and become certified by the NVTA - she highly recommends partnering with them, taking advantage of their content, free professional development, and the NVTA teaching community.
“The NVTA planted a seed in me years ago and I’ve never stopped being a lifelong learner and sharing that learning with others.”
Math, music, and engagement
Mrs. Lucas’ favorite part about teaching is seeing kids engaged in the lesson. Her students are willing to learn and explore. She consistently reminds them learning is not linear, by having a positive outlook and realistic goals, they can achieve great things together.
Mrs. Lucas, a percussionist, incorporates music into her lessons regularly. “Teaching numbers and math go hand in hand with music. The students love it and it makes it fun for all of us.”
When students see her playing drums or shaking a cabasa while she sings a formula they’ll be using for a math lesson it no doubt creates an immediate connection. The students who have a deep interest and love for music start to let down their guard or “fear of the math” - making it easier for them to engage in new or challenging content.
“Ya know, I got my lifetime certification back when they offered it so I could potentially teach until I’m 102- years-old!” She chuckles, “But teaching has never been a job to someone like me, I’m all about the connections and giving back for the greater good. It’s truly been a calling.”
To Mrs. Lucas, Black History Month is an opportunity to thank all the hidden figures and pioneers that shaped our country to what it is today. She is grateful for their sacrifices and services to all mankind. She believes diversity is important in education to enhance the staff and technology in schools.
“Diversity is not just a melting pot to me. For example, I love to eat my husband’s cooking - and when he’s cooking up something like a new recipe or a tossed salad and he’s bringing in new ingredients and experimenting with new techniques, sauces, and ideas - that’s truly when things become innovative. That’s how I see diversity and collaboration - it’s those moments where we all start sharing our experiences, skills, and making connections - that’s the way forward and how we build better things.”
This year, Mrs. Lucas would like to give tribute to her mom for Black History Month. Her mother, Deborah McNeal has been teaching math and music for over 40 years both in-person and virtually. She plays five instruments, is a choir director and band director at church, and has never stopped teaching.
“I am truly blessed to have her as a mentor.”
Advice for future educators
1. I will never forget my mom’s words on my first day of teaching. She said, “Just be yourself and have fun!” I’m grateful to follow in her footsteps, and I wish the same for others too.
2. If you’re on an island by yourself - this isn’t embracing diversity and collaboration in your classroom. “You gotta connect, ask questions, be around people who can help you grow. You know, I’m grateful for each opportunity to give back what my mentors gave me to shape my career. Teamwork makes the dream work, and I am happy to be part of PLI’s team.”
Check out Mrs. Lucas discussing why she will continue to prefer virtual learning even after the pandemic is over.
Learn more about teaching virtually with Proximity Learning.