Excellent Educators is a WAVY-TV 10 initiative to celebrate local teachers who have gone above and beyond for their students and communities during the last academic year. These Excellent Educators were nominated by their school divisions. Congratulations to these educators for all of their hard work and accomplishments!

Name: Becky Hamlin

Division: Suffolk Public Schools

Position: Special education teacher at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School

What the school division said about this Excellent Educator: Becky Hamlin’s compassionate character is shown daily in her classroom. Her classroom is an open space where she allows her students to learn at their own free will. The lessons that she provides are tailored to each student’s specific learning needs, yet are executed with a delicate balance based on the student’s own schedule.

She allows students to explore learning through a non-threatening manner, which provides an environment that is encouraging, yet open for students to take risks. Hamlin is an advocate for her students and will do whatever it takes to ensure her students are successful. She works extremely hard to ensure that her students are respected by their non-disabled peers and strives to give them the best education they so rightly deserve.

WAVY Meteorologist Jeremy Wheeler met up with Ms. Hamlin and found out in-person what makes her a standout in Suffolk Public Schools. He filed the report:

Teaching an average class on a normal day can be a challenge for any teacher.  However, when you have a classroom with a wide variety of limitations it can become overwhelming – fast. Becky Hamlin is an excellent educator who is teaching her students how to overcome any obstacle – and that the sky’s the limit.

Having a wide range of needs is very challenging, but at Elephant’s Fork Elementary, Becky Hamlin is a special education teacher who rises to the occasion every weekday.  She and a couple of assistants have a classroom of both verbal and nonverbal students.  They use creativity and technology to tailor their lessons to each student.  Since some of her students are non-verbal, she actually uses a tablet with pictures for those kids to communicate.  

They also have some low-tech equipment to handle the students’ changing energy levels during the day. This includes a trampoline and a swing that hangs from the ceiling.  These are not typically found in a classroom, but they are good tools for working with the kids’ different energy levels and temperaments.  

However, it’s neither computers nor swings that are at the heart of her success.  Extremely hard work and persistence are key, and she has learned how to hone that skill over the years through her students. “I have learned resilience and perseverance from my students. They never give up. They are some of the hardest working people I know.”  

That attitude and the encouraging learning environment she creates is why she was given the Teacher of the Year award.  Not just for the school, but for the entire City of Suffolk.  Part of her reward is watching the kids grow and succeed.  

“Obviously, I’m a special education teacher.  So the students come to me with some very specific needs, and it’s very rewarding to watch them grow within those needs, and find ways around them.” 

Ms. Hamlin mentioned that her great grandmother also taught kids from different backgrounds years ago, and she looked up to her as a role model. 

Thank you Becky Hamlin for all your hard work!