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Goose Creek Elementary teacher invests in students, families with home visits

Published Monday, January 28, 2019

Home visit photos

Photos from some of the home visits Mrs. Dedria Donnahoo has made with students and their families. (BCSD graphic)

It began during the holiday season about six years ago. Goose Creek Elementary teacher Dedria Donnahoo had toys donated to her 4-year-old class on the day before winter break.

A few of the students weren’t at school that day, and without hesitation, she wrote down their addresses on sticky notes and took the gifts to their homes.

She quickly noticed the impact those visits had on students, and her dedication to make home visits to each of her students every year began.

“One child in particular had been a challenge so far that year. He was biting others, refusing to do work, and I had been doing my best to show love and patience,” Mrs. Donnahoo said.

She sat on the floor and played with him for a few minutes, and when school resumed in January, there was a noticeable difference. He became a “model student.”

“He said over and over again, ‘You come to my house. You play Transformers. You come to my house. You play transformers.’ He was kind to others. He completed work. He was changed,” she said.

Mrs. Donnahoo spoke to her principal and every principal she has had since. Home visits have become an important layer in how she teaches.

From extra help with reading to learning how to make tamales, Mrs. Donnahoo describes the extra time building relationships with her students and parents as “everything.”

“For me, knowing a student at school isn’t enough. For me to feel like I can truly teach a child, I need to know their families too,” she said.

As Mrs. Donnahoo shares her success at educator conferences and with other teachers at her school, she’s gotten many questions and seen her approach grow.

“This year, one of my fellow teachers here at GCE, Jasmin Banks, has started to conduct them. She is also seeing the positive effect they can have on students and their families.” Mrs. Donnahoo said.

Seven minutes – that’s how long it takes to drive from school to a child’s home and say, “Your kiddo rocked it today.” Mrs. Donnahoo has timed it and will forever argue the value of her personal investment.

“I know this for sure, as long as I am in the classroom, I will be a teacher who visits students and their families outside of school. It is literally the most positive step I have ever taken in my education career thus far.”

Brian Troutman