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Wednesday December 7th

'Striving for excellence': Kiandra Torry nominated as exceptional children educator

<p>Kiandra Torry pictured outside of Northside Elementary School on Oct. 11, 2022.</p>
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Kiandra Torry pictured outside of Northside Elementary School on Oct. 11, 2022.

Kiandra Torry, a teacher at Northside Elementary School, was nominated as the CHCCS Exceptional Children Educator of Excellence on Wednesday, Oct. 5. 

A teacher for 11 years, Torry said she has been a teacher at Northside since 2015. 

She knew she wanted to teach students with disabilities from a young age. In high school, she said she liked to visit the classrooms for these students during her lunch period. 

“I’ve always had a passion for (helping) children with special needs,” she added. 

In the North Carolina public school system, the Exceptional Children program teaches students with disabilities. 

Northside Elementary School's Principal Coretta Sharpless said the program is designed to allow students with disabilities to access the same curriculum the rest of the students have. She said students may have individually designed instruction, an alternate timeline or additional resources to help them succeed.

At Northside, Torry is one of four EC teachers and works with eight students regularly. The students range from kindergarten to fifth grade, and she teaches them math, reading, writing and social skills. 

Torry said some of the EC teachers at the school go into the general education classrooms and co-teach to provide extra support for students. CHCCS's EC program prioritizes allowing students to spend time with their peers. 

Rather than Torry going into general classrooms to assist, the students she works with come to her classroom for a few hours each day.

"I’m very flexible," Torry said. "I try to help in any way that I can."

She noted that she also emphasizes relationships with supportive people who also help her students.

"I feel like it's important to not only build relationships with your students but to also build relationships with their families," Torry said. 

The Exceptional Children Educator of Excellence award is given out by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. One teacher from each district in the state is nominated each year.  

David Bouldin, director of Exceptional Children program in CHCCS, said the nomination includes a trip to the Conference on Exceptional Children from Nov. 2 to Nov. 4 in Greensboro, where the nominees will be recognized. 

Bouldin said one of the main reasons Torry was CHCCS's nominee this year was her performance during the 2021-2022 school year. He also said she was always one of the first people to offer her help to students in immediate need of additional support.

“She just has the best attitude about supporting all students,” Bouldin said. 

Sharpless said what sets Torry apart is her commitment to the students and her willingness to go above and beyond to fulfill their needs. She said she is always looking for ways to better herself and the teachers around her to ensure the students receive the best education possible. 

“One of the things that sets her apart from other teachers is her continuous commitment to striving for excellence within herself,” Sharpess said. 

In February, Torry’s colleagues at Northside Elementary voted her as their school's 2022 Teacher of the Year. 

She said one of her primary teaching practices is building relationships with her students and their families. By doing so, she can find out what they like and incorporate those things into classroom activities. 

Torry also said it is important to focus on what the students want for themselves. She said she gives students the chance to set their own goals for what they want to achieve and hold themselves accountable for their learning. 

She has been teaching students with disabilities for around seven years and said the most fulfilling part of her job is the students themselves. She said making students feel loved and successful is very important to her. 

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@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com 


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