Who Else Had a Teacher That Changed Their Life?

Teachers are the backbone of our society, the people who spend the most time with our young people other than parents and guardians. We rely on teachers to care for our children, teach them important skills, nurture and guide them in decision-making. Many people are now recognizing the indispensable work of educators as our schools have closed their doors while trying to continue providing education to students in the best ways they can figure out during a pandemic. We are an education-focused nonprofit, and thus, almost our entire staff once taught in the classroom. We know intimately the immense work, care and dedication this profession requires. And today we want to take the opportunity to say to all teachers, we deeply appreciate you and all the work that you do.

Every teacher makes a long-lasting impact on at least one student (usually many more!). Our hope is to honor the invaluable contributions teachers make in our communities and society as a whole, knowing that this is a profession that continues to be undervalued, overworked and underpaid. It is because of the passion and deep commitment of educators that young people continue to be educated and cared for daily in our schools, whether within them or from afar, as our current context clearly illuminates. Let’s all thank a teacher in our lives (or hopefully several!) and take action to ensure this critical profession is truly valued in our communities. 

In appreciating all teachers, we decided to highlight the work and dedication of one in particular who has become an integral part of The Practice Space community: Ms. Lola Sims. Below, AnnMarie Baines, Executive Director of The Practice Space, shares a little more about what Ms. Sims means to our community, as well as the school in which she teaches. 

AnnMarie: 

Ms. Sims is an elementary/middle school teacher at Loma Vista Environmental Academy in Vallejo. She has been teaching for over 20 years, both in West Contra Costa Unified and Vallejo City Unified. Her work extends beyond the classroom, taking up multiple volunteer and leadership positions and helping co-found her school’s debate team alongside her eldest son. 

Ms. Sims is a seeker and a connector. She seeks out opportunities that her students don’t currently have and she does everything she can to make it happen for them. And we’re lucky that she came to our first Open House and found us! I remember that day, she was looking so intensely at our offerings and resources and immediately wanted to know how her sons could participate and how she could bring us to her school. Once we arrived at the school to create a debate team with her, I really appreciated how she made everything inclusive. Instead of only inviting the so-called “good” students, Ms. Sims invited students who had something to say and who wanted to work hard to be part of the debate team. The team has thrived and grown due to her leadership and we are so happy to partner with her!

What I love about Ms. Sims is that she obviously cares about her students. She knows how interconnected learning is with students’ lives and she makes sure they have everything that they need to do well. From making sure they are fed, to making sure they are organized, to making sure they feel like they belong, to pushing them to a high standard, Ms. Sims does it all. She is their Mama Bear, pushing them to do more and find more opportunities, all while loving them. 

Ms. Sims has made such a huge impact in my life that I cannot explain. She pretty much changed my life by introducing me to speech and debate. It opened a whole new world for me. It taught me that there is power in my voice. It taught me that I can make a difference. It taught me that my opinion matters. Through speech and debate I have met so many amazing people and I’ve made so many amazing connections. If it wasn’t for her I don’t think I’d be where I am today. I have grown so much through speech and debate; it has opened up a whole new sense of maturity that has made me who I am today. It has shown me what I am capable of.

-Mistura, student

Thank you Ms. Sims for all that you do to support students and families! 


This week also check out our social media (FacebookInstagram and Twitter) to find more shout outs to special teachers who influenced each of our lives!

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