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Extraordinary Educator: Carmen Longest

Carmen Longest, Southwest Guilford Elementary School, awarded High Point Extraordinary Educator by the High Point School Schools Partnership at High Point Country Club, High Point, N.C., Friday, August 20, 2021. (Lynn Hey photo)

2021 Extraordinary Educators: Carmen Longest

Great communities have great schools. High Point Schools Partnership creates impactful connections between our schools and the wider community to ensure students and their families are supported and can reach their full potential in High Point schools.

Part of High Point Schools Partnerships’ mission is to improve the image of our schools through storytelling. Who better to tell the stories of High Point’s schools than the people experiencing it first-hand? In this series of eight articles, we will highlight our 2021 High Point Extraordinary Educators as we dive deeper into what keeps them motivated in the face of constant challenges.

Carmen Longest

Carmen Longest has been at Southwest Elementary School for two years. She loves the “large community support and dedicated teachers,” and cites Southwest’s committed teachers as the reason why she has  “grown tremendously as an educator” since starting there.

Michelle Thigpen, the principal at Southwest Elementary School, describes Mrs. Longest as “the type of teacher that you dream of for your own child. From the moment you walk into her classroom, you can feel the positive energy from everyone in there. Her excitement to start the day is contagious for both the staff and students.”

In addition to a great atmosphere, Thigpen says Mrs. Longest’s “instructional approach is both engaging and strategic so that all students are provided access to the grade-level standards while she is teaching.”

Q: What inspired you to become an educator?

A: My 4th grade teacher inspired me to be a teacher. She had a lot of classroom pets and made sure everyone in our classroom had a job to help take care of them. We all had a purpose in her classroom and everyone depended on each other to help. She made the classroom ours, not hers. She made me want to come to school every day by making learning fun and engaging. I knew I wanted to be just like Ms. Hoover when I grew up.

Q: What’s your teaching/leadership style?

A: My teaching style is very student-centered. Once I build relationships with my students, I am able to understand their learning styles. This helps me adjust my lessons to the wide range of student needs in the classroom. Sometimes, this means individualizing the instruction to meet the needs of certain students. As a whole class, the more engaging and fun, the better. We sing and put motions with everything.

Q: Do you have a classroom motto or philosophy you abide by? Why?

A: The motto of my classroom is “our class is a family.” Since students spend more time with me and their classmates than their own families, it is important for my students to know they are safe, loved, and respected. Creating this motto in our classroom allows for a space where students feel safe to make mistakes, celebrate what makes us unique, and allows them to learn from each other. I love it when the Kindergartners make their own reference to our class family all year. They will tell me how much they missed our class family over break or even hold each other accountable by telling another classmate “we don’t treat our family like that.” 

Q: What’s your favorite part about every day?

A: The best part of my day is greeting the students as they enter my classroom. As the students stagger in, I am able to greet them with a hug, smile or a short, personal conversation, which lets them know how happy I am to see them. Greeting each child helps start our day on the right foot.

Q: What’s your most memorable moment as an educator?

A: As educators, we have memorable moments every day. I love seeing the light bulb come on with students who have been struggling to understand a concept or when Kindergarteners read their first book on their own. There is nothing like seeing a Kindergartener’s face light up after they read their very first book!

If Mrs. Longest could tell students’ parents anything, she would tell them “ it takes a village. Teachers need your support and a positive attitude towards school and involvement. We cannot do our job without you.”

If she could tell her students anything, she would say “learning is fun! I tell my students every day that we have something fun planned. Sometimes it is something simple like reading a favorite story with funny voices and other times we are making our own compost jars and having a royal tea party!  Whatever the activity, the students always have a positive attitude while learning.”

Thank you so much to Carmen Longest for your dedication to High Point’s students. Congratulations on being selected as your school’s 2021 Extraordinary Educator!

To find out more about High Point Schools Partnership and our work, please visit our Facebook page and check out our page on Guilford Education Alliance’s website.

Article written by High Point Schools Partnership Staff