Johnathon Hines, a teacher at Barack Obama Elementary School in Atlanta, has been recognized as Georgia’s Pre-K Teacher of the Year. He is the first Black man to receive the award, and hopes to continue inspiring his young students.
“Now I have the opportunity to inspire other males in early childhood. And that’s definitely one of my biggest goals,” Hines told 11 Alive. “I know how hard it is to be a teacher. The love and passion that you have to have to come in the classroom every single day. It’s definitely a calling, and that is my calling.”
Hines has always been very passionate about teaching. He believes it is important that a child would first love learning which he does unconventionally and energetically through dancing and singing.
“Cause I feel like when a child is engaged, the more they will learn,” he explained. “When I was in school I didn’t really enjoy the story, or the story was boring. Pre-K is the first year a child will experience school, so I want their first encounter to be a loving, nurturing encounter. And also allow them to have fun and still be a 4-year-old.”
One of the most rewarding parts of his job is seeing his little students learn. Hines currently teaches 22 students that he treats like his own child.
“What I love most about my job is seeing the growth in my children,” he added. “Sometimes students come in being only able to recognize a few letters. But by May they are able to write their first and last names, read a short story. But even grow as a person. They develop self-confidence. They develop social and emotional skills. The growth is really important in pre-K.”
Moreover, Hines hopes he could get to inspire other men, especially Black men, to consider taking a career path in teaching.
“I have the opportunity to inspire other males to get inside of the classroom,” he said. “It speaks volumes because there’s so many teachers in the state of Georgia and to be the number one pre-K teacher means a lot.”