Atlee High School teacher wins Hanover’s Innovative Teacher of the Year

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- It's not easy teaching a lot of students at once, even for the best teachers. But an idea has helped English teacher Christina Dobson become the Hanover County Schools Innovator of the Year.

Ms. Dobson

On any given day you'll find her hard at work at Atlee High School, but she's also challenging and inspiring her students with help -- from other students.

"It started as a club," Ms. Dobson explained. “Students were asked if they wanted to come in voluntarily during their lunch. Our first year we saw maybe 100 students who volunteered four hours and things like that, and it sort of caught fire."

"I like working with other students and since writing is a passion of mine, and always has been," Atlee senior Logan Christian said. “It's really rewarding to be able to share that with other students and meet and collaborate with teachers."

Logan Christian/Senior

"If we have 30 kids in our class, we don't always get that one-on-one conference time," Ms. Dobson said, "so they're getting that. And a lot of times, they're getting it from students who just had that teacher or just did that assignment or just went through that process."

Ms. Dobson's vision, Composition Theory, inspired the "Raider Writing Center."

So far, it's helped nearly 650 students, not only improving their grades, but also helping the tutors learn business skills, how to operate strong social media connections, and communicate effectively.

"They're chosen based on their enthusiasm for helping students, their communication ability, they're leaders in the classroom, so it's something we kind of pride ourselves on."

For winning the award, Ms. Dobson received a $1,000 check from the Hanover Education Foundation, a wireless keyboard, a CD/DVD writer, and a crystal engraved award.

She plans to use the cash to buy whiteboard writing tables and technology for her kids to use in her classroom.

Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell airs Wednesdays at 6 a.m.

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