Top teacher

Published 11:17 pm Friday, March 4, 2011

Teacher: Susan Braford, math analysis and Advanced Placement calculus teacher, was selected as Suffolk Public Schools’ 2011 City-Wide Teacher of the Year. Braford is in her 39th year of teaching, and she strives make math engaging and applicable to her students’ lives. “I’m trying to make their lives a little bit better, so that they will leave high school with skills that are marketable,” she said.

A math teacher at King’s Fork High School has been recognized as the cream of the crop.

Susan Braford, who teaches math analysis and Advanced Placement calculus, recently was named Suffolk Public Schools’ 2011 Teacher of the Year. Also honored are a rookie teacher of the year, elementary teacher of the year and middle school teacher of the year.

“It means a great deal when people you’ve worked with for so long recognize you,” the 39-year veteran teacher said. “It’s quite an honor.”


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When Braford began teaching, she said, there were only three career choices for women — nurse, teacher or secretary. Although she was talented in math and her father encouraged her to pursue a career as a math teacher, she began her career teaching elementary physical education instead because she didn’t want to sit still.

She taught elementary school for six years before returning to school to earn additional credentials to teach high school math at a private school in Tennessee.

She began her career with Suffolk at John Yeates High School, where her husband went to school years before. The principal at the time, William Whitley, introduced her to her husband’s former teachers on the day of the interview.

“I instantly felt like I was part of the family,” she said.

She also taught at Nansemond River High School before transferring to King’s Fork.

After her graduation from Piscataway Township High School, Braford studied physical education at Western Carolina University and also earned a master’s degree there. She earned her educational leadership degree at Old Dominion University.

“She is a gem in Suffolk who has made a positive impact on thousands of students for many years,” Suzanne Moore, principal of King’s Fork High School, said in a press release.

She is noted by her principal for taking extra time with students, teaching to a variety of learning styles and integrating technology into her lessons. She offers Saturday study sessions for her students and hosts a “Lunch Bunch” which exposes kids to experts in mathematics-based fields.

Braford aspires to change lives through teaching by example, applying her lessons to real-life situations and making math less scary.

“As teachers, you can’t be the sage on the stage, but the guide on the side,” she said. “My favorite part is when the kid says, ‘Oh, I get it,’ It’s seeing the light come on.”

Jessica Newton was recognized as the Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Newton teaches at Northern Shores Elementary and is in her sixth year of teaching. She coaches an Odyssey of the Mind team that recently earned first place at regional competition.

Jill Paraska was recognized as Middle School Teacher of the Year. Paraska teaches seventh-grade math at John Yeates Middle School and is in her 20th year of teaching.

Jamilla Ford was chosen as the Rookie Teacher of the Year. She is a music teacher at Booker T. Washington.

“She is joyful, bubbly and goes out of her way to make our students want to come to her classes,” said Denise Singleton, counselor at the school.