Andrea Fleming, Prekindergarten Special Education Teacher at Morris Early Childhood Center, was named Morris’ 2014 Teacher of the Year. She has been with Milford School District since 2009, as she started teaching first grade.
After graduating from Milford High School in 2002, Fleming earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Elementary Education from Lynchburg College in Virginia in 2006. She spent the next three years at the the school earning her Master’s Degree in Special Education and Early Intervention. While attending college, she played for the Lynchburg College Field Hockey during her undergraduate years and coached the field hockey team during her graduate courses, where she led the team to an ODAC Championship for three straight years.
Working with three-, four- and five-year olds at Morris Early Childhood Center, Fleming educates children with varied levels of disabilities including students with developmental delays to children that are classified by the State of Delaware as kids with special needs. Targeting children with behavioral or low cognitive conditions, she acknowledges that each child needs individualized attention to achieve success.
“I love this age, how innocent they are and how they come to school wanting to learn,” commented Fleming. “Making a difference in the life of a special needs child is what keeps me excited about my job. Many students come from different backgrounds that can hurt their ability for early development. I let them know that here at school they can thrive in a nurturing and caring environment.”
As with any typical prekindergarten child, Fleming states that social challenges such as the ability to share and short attention spans are prevalent in the classroom. Her added challenge arises from the spectrum of students that are present in her classroom on a daily basis. As she prepares children with a slight developmental or high behavioral problem for kindergarten, Fleming also teaches children with a range of conditions including autism. Only in her care for two and a half hours per day, she implements an individual education plan for each student in the classroom.
“The biggest message that I want the kids to understand is that I am going to support their needs no matter what happens,” commented Fleming. “This is a safe place for them and they do not have to be afraid to make mistakes.” She accomplishes this by setting small breakthroughs and milestones that each child can reach individually on a daily basis and throughout the year.
A part of the Morris Early Childhood Center team for five years now, Fleming is looking forward to a long career in teaching and caring for young children. She believes that it is at this age when children set their opinions on school and their own standards for their unique educational career.
“Early intervention is the most critical thing, making sure we get to these kids as early as possible and teach them to have a desire to learn,” commented Fleming. “Once they reach elementary or middle school it is too late.”
Fleming will now compete at the district level, against her peers in the Milford School District, where the winner of that competition will face distinguished teachers from across the state of Delaware.