July Top Notch Teacher: Michelle Powell

It takes a lot of energy if you’re spending time with 4- and 5-year-olds, which is something preschool teacher Michelle Powell at Spence Elementary school is quite familiar with.

In Powell’s bustling classroom, the lesson of the day is one in community.

“It wouldn’t be a community if we didn’t have our people right?” she asked her students.

Powell’s classroom is a community all its own.

“I treat my room as a family,” she said.

For the past two years, Powell has taught preschool.

“This is definitely the age I enjoy and can flourish, I think, to my best teaching ability, so I really enjoy this,” she said.

Play and learning can be one in the same.

“I get to be goofy too and not looked at like a crazy teacher,” Powell said.

Keeping up with these kiddos takes enthusiasm.

“When you get here, it’s hard not to have energy form 4- or 5-year-olds,” Powell said. “I feed off of it, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t give them 100 percent.”

Powell invites parents into her classroom community as well.

“I have an open door policy,” she said. “It’s just as much their classroom as it is the students’ or my classroom.”

“We love her,” parent Stacy Mahlum said. “She’s the best. She’s so energetic and always willing to go the extra mile and help us whenever we need it.”

Powell recently earned her master’s degree, which gives her ideas for big topics to bring into the classroom, that she helps the school’s littlest students understand.

“There have been times when I think, ‘There’s no way I can do that in preschool, no way we can have those rich cultural conversations or conversation about jobs,’ but we do, and they get it,” she said.

Powell says her Top Notch Teacher nomination from fellow teachers means the world.

“I’ve wanted to be a teacher my whole life; that’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do,” she said. “I think that’s the highest honor for me, is that other teachers find what I’m doing valuable. That makes me feel really good.

July is a big month for Powell in more than one way. She’s expecting her second child in the middle of this month.