‘In this together’: Teacher awarded for compassion, work outside everyday duties

‘In this together’: Teacher awarded for compassion, work outside everyday duties

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A teacher at Westover Hills Elementary School is being honored for her work not only as a teacher, but also as a caretaker, counselor, and confidant, to her third graders.

“I have an opportunity to change lives, I want to positively change the lives of the students that I encounter,” said Janice Grey, this month’s Excellence in Education award winner.

Grey is in a position she initially had no interest in pursuing.

“Growing up both of my parents were teachers and I kind of originally thought that I did not want to be a teacher,” she said.

For the past 24 years- the last 12 at Westover Hills - Grey has been nurturing the lives of countless students.

Not only is she addressing the educational needs of her students, Grey is also providing emotional support by helping them deal with the trauma they may encounter outside the classroom.

“You don’t know where a student is coming from, what they’re experiencing at home,” she said.

It’s why she often uses her own money to buy anything they need, and not just school supplies.

“If I see a need, I try to fill that need, whether it’s food or clothing," Grey said. “I want them to know that when they’re here I’m really like their mother. If you need me I’m here. If you have any concerns you come to me. We’re in this together.”

Allison El Koubi, principal at Westover Hills Elementary School, says she really appreciates the overall care and effort Grey puts forth.

“She is concerned about the whole child and wants to make sure that they have enough food," she said, "and that they have the proper clothes and that none of those obstacles that might get in the way of learning are preventing any of her students from learning to the best of their ability.”

Like all of us, Grey might have a rough day every now and then, but instead of putting her needs ahead of her students, she makes a sacrifice.

“When I hit that door, I leave everything that’s happened to me or whatever I’m going through at the door, because I know the students need me more, and I love doing it every day,” Grey said.

And her students appreciate the effort.

“They give me hugs, they give me kisses, and I think they know they can come to me even if they just need to talk," said Grey.

Excellence in Education is sponsored by Henrico Federal Credit Union.

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