Teachers are Heroes: Alexis Drummond will always be on her students' team
Published on Friday, December 2, 2022
When she gets dressed for school, Alexis Drummond enjoys channeling her inner Ms. Frizzle (also known as her spirit animal).
On this particular day, Drummond’s outfit is predominantly pencil-themed: her shirt is covered in them; her knee-length socks look like pencils – and they are sticking straight out of some spunky shoes that Drummond painted gold for a Halloween costume a couple of years ago (she was dressed as a member of Koo Koo Kanga Roo). Her earrings are actual pencils – in fact, if she does not have a writing utensil handy, all she needs to do is remove one of her earrings and scribble.
She also dons a robot-shaped pendant on her necklace and has a really cool flower pin in her hair that is decorated in LEGOs. Her 5-year-old son, David (also known as Tiny Human to her students) made the pin for her, using Nexton Elementary’s blue and green school colors. Drummond will always wear this pin (or another flower one) – it is kind of her trademark.
“My goal in life is to be Ms. Frizzle,” she said. “She is my spirit animal. I always try to have something quirky, something related to what we’re doing.”
Her colorful outfit is a direct reflection of her colorful personality – and Drummond has a lot of it. She wants her students to build confidence, use their voices, and know it is okay to be themselves.
“That is 100 percent why I’m here,” she said. “I want everyone to be authentically themselves and I don’t want them to be afraid.”
She loves her fifth-graders, loves Nexton Elementary and loves her Rocket Robotics team. Really, she just loves being a teacher.
Drummond knew she wanted to teach at the age of 5, and never had any other career choice in mind. By fourth-grade, she was giving up her recess time to go help with the kindergartners.
“It’s my jam – it’s my home,” she said.
Drummond is from outside Atlanta, Georgia originally. She studied elementary education at Georgia State University. She is Read to Succeed certified and Google Level 2 certified.
Drummond started her teaching career in Charleston County nine years ago before coming Nexton Elementary, where she has now worked five years. She started off teaching fourth-grade but switched to fifth-grade post-pandemic.
She runs the school’s Safety Patrol and is also a very hands-on robotics coach; she was named BCSD’s LEGO League Coach of the Year last year.
Drummond said she got into robotics while teaching at her previous school, when the coach at the time needed additional help with the program. Drummond got really into it and noticed that the school’s robotics teams primarily consisted of boys, which made her want to push for more girls to join.
When she transitioned to Nexton Elementary and took over the school’s robotics program, Drummond really ran with it. Rocket Robotics consists of fourth and fifth-graders, but last year the school started its inaugural Juniors Team, which consists of second and third-graders. The team is primarily coached by first grade teacher Natalie Lewis. The school ran a Coding Club during the 2020-2021 school year, where the older students taught coding to lower grade level friends.
The older students are also part of the Challenge League and the juniors are in the Explore League. The younger league does the same as the older students, just scaled back. They still build and code, but only complete one mission as opposed to 15. They perform tasks on their seven core values but do not participate in the project portion (this year it is all about sustainable energy). Drummond said the junior members “swept the competition” last year and all of her robotics students are eager to compete. The older students have a competition on Dec. 10 at Summerville High, and the juniors are going to host a competition later in the school year.
Drummond even has alumni members who will help out with her current students. Seven of them are scheduled to come back and help critique an upcoming dress rehearsal to get everyone ready for the competition at Summerville High.
“So even when they leave me, they never actually leave me,” she said.
She also stays very active with her former students. Drummond will attend sporting events to show them support. She said she wants her students to remember that she is someone who always believed in them.
If she had to pick, Drummond said her favorite things to teach are history and math. She loves storytelling, and is slated to teach a Storytelling in Math lesson during a district-wide professional development event held in the spring semester.
“I have stories for everything – some of them are student-created,” she said.
Inside her classroom, Drummond demonstrates strong communication skills with her students and shows them how to work with one another to achieve success. She models direct communication, and how to work out issues with peers.
“I want to be the person that makes every kid feel valued, makes every kid feel like what they have to say is important, and that who they are is important,” she said.
Students take skills Drummond teaches with them through the year and into middle school. She wants her students to be able to talk to their future teachers with confidence.
“We’re very much a culture of mutual respect,” she said.
As far as her future plans go, Drummond knows she is happiest in the classroom.
“This is where my heart is. I want to work with the kids every day,” she said. “Leaving the classroom isn’t who I am.”