COVINGTON — High expectations and a love for students have helped two Alleghany Highlands Public Schools teachers achieve recognition from a group of public school divisions in Virginia.
The Comprehensive Instructional Program recently named Kelley Calhoun and Christina Linsin as two of its most successful teachers of at-risk students. Calhoun is a third-grade teacher at Jeter-Watson Elementary School. Linsin teaches sixth and seventh grade language arts at Covington Middle School. She formerly taught at Covington High School and at Alleghany High School.
The recognition is based on Standards of Learning test scores for 2022-2023.
“As we do each year, we identified our most successful teachers of our most at-risk students. These teachers had a minimum of 50 percent of their students who were identified as economically disadvantaged, and at least 10 percent of their students were identified as students with disabilities. Of those teachers, we selected the five that had the highest SOL scores. Oftentimes, these teachers’ pass rates are significantly higher than teachers who have few economically disadvantaged students and no students with disabilities. This is a really huge accomplishment!” said Matt Hurt, director of the Comprehensive Instructional Program (CIP).
The CIP, based in Wise, is a consortium of public school divisions in Virginia that collaborate to improve student achievement. The CIP is designed to help teachers by providing lesson plans, activities, and assessments that are aligned with Virginia’s Standards of Learning. The SOL tests are used to measure students’ success in meeting the state’s expectations in core subject areas.
The resources that are provided to teachers by the CIP are submitted by other teachers whose students have demonstrated high levels of success in meeting the SOL standards.
In 2022-2023, Linsin ranked among the top five CIP teachers in the End of Course Reading SOL, which is given to juniors. Now in her 23rd year of teaching, Linsin has taught in the Alleghany Highlands for 14 years. She has worked for Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Alleghany Highlands Public Schools.
“First, I think my subject matter is amazing,” she said of teaching language arts. “It is my very favorite stuff in life, and I enjoy sharing what I already know and the new things I learn about it with my students. Second, I like the kids I teach. I think they are awesome people, and whether they do well with my subject matter really matters to me because I want them to do really well in their lives. Third, I like teaching. Even after all this time, I enjoy what I do, even on the hard days. I think those three things help the students with engagement, and engagement helps with the retention of the material.”
Linsin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature from Florida State University and a Master of Arts degree in literature from Southern New Hampshire University. After she retires from teaching, Linsin plans to earn a doctorate in literature.
“I’m just doing my job and praying for the best on SOLs like everyone else,” Linsin said of her CIP recognition. “The EOC test is a cumulative test, and my scores are the result of the hard work of a lot of different people.”
Calhoun is in her third year of teaching at Jeter-Watson Elementary School. She has served as a teacher for 24 years, having previously taught at Boys Home of Virginia and in Alleghany County Public Schools. She worked part-time for ACPS and was a homeschooling parent for a time.
“I believe having a growth mindset is very important and keeping educational expectations high so all students keep growing is essential. Helping students take mistakes and turn them into opportunities for growth is my mission,” Calhoun said.
“I work hard to make sure I am helping my students make sense of new information and relate that information to their lives in and out of school. Daily review and practice helps keep information fresh in their mind and building on prior learning helps build new connections that last. Our third-grade team explicitly follows the SOLs and the curriculum framework to guide our teaching,” she said.
Calhoun originally earned a degree in paralegal studies. After deciding to change careers, she earned a degree in early childhood education. She later received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and education from Bridgewater College.
“Being a mom of a child with special needs along with the training I have received has required me to challenge traditional teaching methods and learn to think outside the box,” she said. “I am very appreciative of the CIP recognition, but I work with an amazing team of educators at Jeter-Watson and we continuously push ourselves to do better and be better than we were yesterday to benefit our students. I share this recognition with the entire third-grade team. I am incredibly thankful to work with such dedicated people.”
In 2022-2023, the consortium recognized just over 100 teachers across 50 school divisions for their outstanding successes. CIP divisions are located throughout every region in the state.
“We are so proud of the teamwork present in AHPS classrooms and schools, and we know these successes represent professional collaboration, student efforts, and support from families,” said Kim Halterman and Melinda Snead-Johnson, leaders of AHPS. “In discussing these honors, both of these excellent teachers gave credit to the help they are given from others in AHPS, a true testament to their leadership and professional skills.”
With approximately 2,700 students, the Alleghany Highlands Public Schools Division is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington. AHPS was formed in July 2022 through the merger of Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Jackson River Technical Center.
AHPS news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools and on Instagram at ahpublicschools. Information is also available at www.ahps.k12.va.us.
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