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!

Names: Dianna Avents and Minkah Allen

Division: Portsmouth Public Schools

Positions: Eighth grade co-teachers at Churchland Middle School

What the school division said about these Excellent Educators: Dianna Avents and Minkah Allen are a dream co-teaching team that transforms the standard classroom into a daily learning lab for their math 8 inclusion classes. Recognized as a model co-teaching team by VDOE, they work seamlessly to engage, inspire, challenge, and motivate their students to learn mathematics in the most practical of ways.

At any given time when one walks by Room 116, students and teachers alike are center stage, finding creative ways to process and comprehend difficult mathematical concepts. Songs, dances, and modeling all aid in the metacognition that takes place in their classroom, and what is most impressive is that without already knowing their individual roles, a visitor would be unable to tell who the general teacher is from the special education teacher because of their collaborative nature.

WAVY-TV 10’s Stephanie Hudson had the opportunity to interview this educator.

They are a teaching team that’s belting out dynamic duets at Churchland Middle School in Portsmouth.

Dianna Avents and Minkah Allen are co-teachers. One is a general education teacher, the other a special education teacher, but you’d never know their roles just by watching them in class.

“Even though I am the special education teacher I tend to work with everybody, Allen told 10 On Your Side. 

The teaching team uses music to help their students learn. They have a rap for every SOL strand, all 18 of them! On the day we visited the class they were rapping these lyrics, “— I got a right triangle, the formula I use A squared and B squared are the legs … C squared’s  Hypotenuese.”

Avents told us later that performing doesn’t come naturally. “Out of the comfort zone, definitely not a rapper or a singer or a dancer but we try our best and the kids love it, the kids love it.”

Music helps with memory especially for those with learning disabilities. “Sometimes you’ll hear them as they’re working — reciting it –the lyrics and — that’s the goal,” they said.

They have a growing fanbase. Assistant Principal, Dr. Crystal Pope explained, “We have a lot of requests for parents wanting their students to be in that particular class.”

Neither teacher has plans to go solo. and neither wants to go solo. “No one’s breaking us apar,” Avents laughed. 

They plan to keep turnin’ out classroom hits that help kids comprehend some complex questions.