Duncan Chapel Elementary’s Sheila Motes Named ’Unsung Hero’
“She encourages us for a better life.” – Elenixi, Fourth Grade
Sheila Motes is described as a person who humbly and quietly makes a difference for young people. As the Communities in Schools Site Coordinator at Duncan Chapel Elementary School, her ability to build strong relationships and influence a school community has earned her recognition as one of five national Communities in Schools “Unsung Heroes.”
Mrs. Motes runs the school’s after-school program, which provides mentoring and tutoring for second through fifth grade students. In addition to addressing students’ academic needs, the after-school program includes a focus on health and wellness. “We have a ‘Girls on the Run’ team, and we’re in the process of starting a boys running club too,” she said.
As part of the wellness program, teachers incorporate time in the day for physical activity, a health and nutrition curriculum, and opportunities to tend to the after-school’s vegetable garden. Classes visit the garden each day where they get a lesson in gardening skills as well as learn new vocabulary words. One student said in her support letter for Mrs. Motes, “She taught us about plants and nutrition, and we even made our own garden and watered the plants. We picked the vegetables and made a big, delicious salad.”
Principal Stephanie Lowry sings praises for the work Mrs. Motes is doing to improve the school. “She is just such an example for parents and students. They look to her as an educator, a mother, and a parent,” she said.
Mrs. Motes stresses the importance of educating the whole family. Once a month, the school hosts Family Night activities that provide a positive experience and makes academic learning fun. “Some of the parents have little or no education at all,” she said. “We use Family Nights to help families learn things together like math and reading.”
Duncan Chapel Elementary Title 1 Facilitator Brana Myers has witnessed Mrs. Motes’ incredible knowledge of each child’s background, their strengths and weaknesses, and their specific academic, physical and emotional need. “She is consistently fair, kind and reasonable, whether dealing with a problem, a celebration, or anything in between. Her skills as an organizer, communicator, teacher, and director make our program a huge success,” said Mrs. Myers.
Students’ enthusiasm for giving back to the community is contagious. “We have a Harvest Celebration each fall,” explained Mrs. Motes. “We prepare the vegetables we’ve grown, add some dressing and croutons, and take a huge salad to Triune Mercy Center (a haven for the homeless). Our students don’t have a lot of money, but they are learning to give back. My goal is to empower the students and families of Duncan Chapel.”
Congratulations to Sheila Motes, an Unsung Hero at Duncan Chapel Elementary School!