As a second grade teacher at Shades Cahaba Elementary, Rachel Radcliff brings experience, a commitment to diversity, and a love of childhood growth into her classroom. 

Though she’s taught for nine years across three different cities, Rachel did not grow up wanting to be a teacher. But an experience in college made her calling hard to ignore:

“In college, I worked at a daycare part time. After changing my major three times and resisting in every way that teaching was my calling, I decided to major in education.  I love kids and love to watch them grow. Knowing that I can make a difference and help them become the people they want to be is a driving force.”

Helping her students shape their identities is a daily pursuit. Rachel noted that by the time students enter the second grade, they start to develop their own beliefs and values. This is also the time when they “go from learning to read to reading to learn.” Because of this, she talked about the importance of giving them a framework for shaping their own beliefs, teaching them how to think not what to think. Rachel believes it’s important to incorporate diversity into students’ lives and show them how to think outside of the box.

As a vehicle for opening this dialogue, Rachel recommends the book ‘All Are Welcome’ by Alexandra Penfold:

“This book shows how we are all different through great illustrations and opens up the conversation about diversity and identity. “

At the end of the year, Rachel hopes that these messages stay with them for the rest of their journeys:

“Every student should leave my class knowing that they are special in this world and that they can achieve any dream they wish as long as they work hard and are themselves.”

When she is not in school, Rachel spends her time with friends, family, and her dog Layla.

Thank you Rachel for sitting down with us and for all that you do for our students!

Check out Rachel’s 2nd grade reading recommendations (and more) here!

September 25, 2020 — Jonathan Robinson