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Jahsha Tabron teaching

Alumna Jahsha Tabron was named Delaware’s 2022 Teacher of the Year. 

“The most important thing any teacher can do is be a mirror to students,” says Tabron, a special education English teacher at Brandywine High School in Wilmington. “When you lead a classroom, you talk about assigned readings and healthy habits. But if you also mirror good values, in class and as part of the community, you’re doing much more than just lecturing to your students.”

Tabron has been sharing this message statewide, with educators as well as lawmakers, business leaders, and nonprofit organizations. It’s her goal to highlight the potential that teachers, working together, can have in strengthening a community.

“Students need community connections,” she says. “During the pandemic this has been difficult, but students need to see the value of education. We can show them this, through the connections we foster with them and their families.”

Jahsha Tabron

Jahsha Tabron

Tabron, who earned a Master of Education in School Leadership and Instruction from then-Wilmington College in 2003, is a teacher who strives for inclusion in her classroom. For special education students in grades 9 through 12, inclusion is an urgent need as they face the future. In addition to helping them to relate stories they’re reading to lives they’re living, Tabron is also supporting disabled students in making the transition to post-secondary education or employment and helping their families locate social or behavioral assistance.

In a letter nominating Tabron for the Teacher of the Year honor, retired Brandywine High School teacher M. Dwayne Caldwell described how she becomes an active participant in students’ learning: “1) be truthful about what is actually happening; 2) determine the steps that need to be taken to change; and 3) hold yourself accountable for taking the steps. This approach has guided all of her work — as a building leader, as a mentor to new teachers, with special needs students, and with me.”

DaSheena Robinson, a Brandy-wine High School alumna who counts Tabron as an inspiration in becoming a teacher, saw Tabron’s care for her classroom firsthand. “Society could discourage students due to socioeconomic status, race, or intellectual level, but it only took one person to truly believe and invest in order to counter the negativity,” she wrote in a nominating letter. “When students were tired and frustrated with life’s circumstances, Mrs. Tabron served as a voice of compassion and hope for a better tomorrow.”

Tabron says a “voice of compassion” is essential for students who are often overlooked. “It’s important for educators to teach students the power of self-advocacy, to help them find their own voices,” she says. “I will always speak for you until you can speak for yourself.”

She believes the key to speaking for the voiceless is listening. Ask only questions about what a person is telling you, without steering the conversation back to yourself.

“There are so many places to go with that,” she says. “I talked with a friend; you could say I’ve known her for many years. But that project introduced me to so many things I’d not known about her family, her fears, her dreams. It changed the way I listened to everyone. Because everyone wants to be listened to.”

Eleven of the past 14 Teachers of the Year chosen by the Delaware Department of Education earned their bachelor’s or master’s degrees at Wilmington University.

­—David Bernard

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