Provided by Josh Heath


Shatara Sims loves teaching now, but it wasn’t always a career goal. In fact, growing up, she dreamed of becoming a doctor and later worked as a medical coder for 17 years. After having her daughter, Sims wanted a career that would allow her to inspire and motivate others. That’s what led her to complete a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Paine College, a master’s degree from Strayer University and several education endorsements. “My calling was to be a teacher,” she says. Sims, a fifth-grade math teacher and department chair at A. Dorothy Hains Elementary School on Windsor Spring Road, was named Richmond County’s 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year in October. She will go on to compete against Teachers of the Year from all school districts statewide, and the winner will be announced at a banquet in May.

Among the prizes for being named Teacher of the Year were a personalized ring, a dove necklace and a nice sum of cash. She also received a blue jacket from the Richmond County School System. Sims was both surprised and humbled when she found out she was selected for the award. “There are some amazing teachers out there, so even being chosen as a finalist is a tremendous honor,” Sims said. A total of 57 teachers were nominated from Richmond County.

Sims uses a variety of teaching strategies to help her students learn math, including incorporating rhythm and movement into lessons and emphasizing hands-on learning. For example, she often uses hand movements, such as beating on her desk rhythmically, to keep her students engaged. Her students enjoy it because they get to beat on their desks, too, in rhythm. She employs manipulatives such as fraction blocks and egg cartons to solve math problems and help students practice what they’ve learned. While many kids struggle in math due to disinterest, Sims says taking her class teaches students to learn to love it. Because students are engaged in her lessons, Sims has few behavior problems. It’s only on occasion that she has to whisper in a student’s ear or have one-on-one conversations with someone who misbehaves in class. According to Sims, parental involvement is essential to student success. Everyone, including students, parents and teachers must work together to ensure what is needed from the educational journey.

Teaching can be stressful, but Sims copes by “thinking about my students and how they need me.” Motivating and inspiring students is what she loves most. Even with all the responsibilities like planning, paperwork and grading, Sims says “there’s nothing I don’t enjoy about being a teacher.” She is in her seventh year and plans to teach until she retires. Before coming to Hains Elementary, Sims taught at Wilkinson Gardens Elementary School for three and a half years. When not teaching, Sims loves to read, listen to music and watch high school, college and professional football. “I love high school football games because I get to take my students with me,” she said.

This article appears in the March 2020 issue of Augusta Family Magazine. Did you like what you read here?