Getting to Know You: AES Teacher of the Year Dianna Adams

Dianna Adams, AES Teacher of the Year and ACS Elementary Teacher of the Year

My name is Dianna Adams. I am the 4th grade gifted education teacher at Albertville Elementary School. I am a graduate of Albertville High School and The University of Alabama earning a Bachelors and Masters in Elementary Education and a certification in Gifted. I began teaching in 1991 which makes this school year #32 for me! I began teaching 4th grade in Albertville in 1997 and continued to teach 4th grade until I had the opportunity to become the AES gifted teacher in 2004. I have spent the past 19 years in the gifted classroom and I love it! Everyday is different. We can study a variety of topics and be creative! My husband, Jeff, and I have been married for 28 years and we have two daughters, Anna Clay and Emilie.

What made you go into education? 

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. People tried to tell me there were other careers that made more money or sounded more exciting, but ultimately I knew that teaching was for me. I love it today as much as I did 32 years ago! I have never regretted the decision to become a teacher.

Did you have a teacher (or teachers) who made an impact on you as a student?

Absolutely! My first teacher was my mother. She was always taking us to cultural places, reading to us, introducing the world to us. I had a great preschool/kindergarten experience at Kiddie Kollege with Mrs. Kathryn Reed. Evans Elementary teachers helped make many great memories for me. My first teaching position was as a 1st grade teacher. I was so thankful to have had such a wonderful first grade teacher, Debbie Mayas, as an example. I had band directors, Bob Killian and Stacy Goss, who taught me valuable life lessons along with music...and then there was Mrs. Raines. Mrs. Julia Raines was my 4th grade teacher. She is a wonderful lady who challenged us academically, enriched our day by introducing us to composers and artists, played the piano as we sang everyday before lunch, and was known to play kickball with us at recess. I strive each and every day to BE Mrs. Raines. She was the teacher who encouraged me to join 4-H. When I was honored with the 4-H Leader of the Year a few years ago, I wrote her a note to tell her. She wrote me back and sent me a photo of her as a 4-H Leader in 1953. I have that photo behind my desk where I can see it everyday. If I can be “the Mrs. Raines” to one student, I have been successful as a teacher.

Why did you want to teach at AES?

Fourth grade is my favorite age to teach and in 2001, all 4th graders in Albertville would attend the brand new AES! I got to tour the building, wearing a hard hat, before it was even finished. I have taught here since the day it opened and it is truly hard for me to believe we have been in this beautiful building for 21 years!

What three words would your peers, administrators or students use to describe you?

I would hope that my students and coworkers would describe me as encouraging, creative, and kind.

What would you tell your first-year self?

I would say to make connections with your students that last long beyond 3:00 pm or the last day of school. Really get to know your students, respect them, expect a lot from them, create a positive environment in your classroom, and create lessons that you and the students will enjoy and make memories in doing.

How do you emphasize involving families in your students’ education?

In gifted education, before we have our first day of class with our students, we meet with each child’s parent. It is a wonderful way to meet the parents, learn more about their child, and set the tone for a positive experience. We have a class Instagram where I post photos of our class activities so that parents can stay up to date with what is happening in GATE.

What advice would you give to those who are interested in teaching?

Yea! I would say DO IT! If you have a passion for teaching and for children, don’t look at the salary scale, don’t listen to others who try to discourage you. Teaching is an honorable profession and so rewarding! I’m so thankful I followed my heart and became a teacher!

What’s your favorite part of the school day?

My favorite part of the day is when my students are in the classroom! We may be using the latest and greatest technology or we may be making a huge mess creating art (most likely there will be glitter involved!) The students are why I teach!

If you had to teach a class on a deserted island, what are the five indispensable things you would take with you?

  • A great book to read (maybe The Invention of Hugo Cabret) 
  • An Idea Trap (journal to catch those fleeting ideas of creativity or write a to do list or write a story or draw....or whatever greatness enters the mind)
  • A pencil, colorful pens or something to write with (in my Idea Trap)
  • Hoping that this island has wifi, an iPad or MacBook because I have embraced how technology can open many doors and methods to learning and creating
  • Logic puzzles to stimulate the brain (like Stories with Holes or Case of Red Herrings)

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned thus far in your career?

The most valuable thing I have learned in my career is to be flexible. Things don’t always go as planned. If you can stay open minded, become a problem solver, and be flexible to adapt to the situation (with a smile) things will be ok!

What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?

I hope they remember that I truly care about each of them. I hope they look back and think I treated them with respect. I hope they will have great memories of challenging learning and fun times in my class.

Describe working at ACS in one word!

HOME. I grew up and had great experiences in Albertville schools. I had the opportunity to move home to Albertville and felt at HOME teaching 4th graders. When my dream career of being a Gifted Education Specialist came true in 2004, I knew I was HOME. I feel totally AT HOME being able to teach gifted, 4th grade, in Albertville.