Metropolitan Adult Education Program (MAEP) Adult High School Independent Study Program Instructor and Curriculum Specialist, Shirley Atkins, has been named Metropolitan Education District’s (MetroED) 2011-12 Teacher of the Year. Atkins will be honored at the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Teacher of the Year ceremony in September.
Atkins has been with MetroED for six years and is a respected teacher and mentor for new teachers as well as a curriculum specialist. “Shirley Atkins is a valuable asset to the Independent Study Program and the entire MetroED District,” MAEP Assistant Principal, Suzi Glass said. “Shirley supports teachers, students and tutors in achieving successful outcomes. In spite of major budget cuts to the adult education program, the quality of her Independent Studies Program (ISP) is unsurpassed.”
Atkins is responsible for a wide variety of tasks including monitoring the ISP’s many compliance requirements; scheduling volunteer tutors to meet the needs of adults in the high school diploma, Adult Basic Education, GED Preparation, and Medical Assistant courses; analyzing and implementing ways of increasing communication; clarifying and refining curriculum for the ISP program; upgrading textbook and online materials; capturing student progress through state testing; and giving extra support to those adults learning Algebra and studying for the CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam).
Atkins said she has always been interested in teaching and taught her friends on an easel that her parents gave to her. She said that the biggest influence to become a teacher came when she was ten-years-old and she would hear her dad’s enthusiasm when he discussed the night school classes that he was taking to earn his high school diploma. “He was so excited about school and learning,” Atkins said. “He was truly a life-long learner and a major influence in my decision to be a teacher.”
Watching her students’ progress and reach their goals is something that Atkins said she enjoys. She added that her favorite memory each year is seeing her students’ faces when they earn their high school diploma. “Being an adult education instructor has been a most rewarding experience,” Atkins said. “I believe adult education not only impacts the adults in our programs but also is a positive influence on our community as well.”
When Atkins is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband Charles, of 37 years, and her two adult sons. Atkins enjoys volunteering as a fire lookout for the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon, traveling, porcelain china painting, puzzles, and math.