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Allsup epitomizing district's exceptional programming

SILER CITY — This is holy work, sacred work, according to Virginia Cross Elementary School educator Maddie Allsup.

“It was actually getting my master’s of divinity with a concentration in religion and social change that led me to become a teacher in the first place, and this background shapes my approach and view of teaching,” Allsup said. “As a teacher, I have unconditional positive regard for each student, meaning I always expect the best of them; know if they are given the right tools they can and will be successful, and each day is a new day with them, no matter what happened the day before.”Virginia Cross Elementary School Principal Sarah Chicchi is with educator Maddie Allsup.

That approach gets at why she is being recognized as a 2019 Exceptional Children Educator of Excellence. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is bestowing that honor on an educator in every traditional school system in the state, among other educational entities. To earn the award, educators have to be recognized as leaders in service to his or her school or school system through innovative instructional programs or methodologies that have demonstrated positive outcomes for students with disabilities. Allsup and the other honorees will be honored during a state conference on exceptional children (EC) in November. 

“Mrs. Allsup provides her students the proper structures both academically and social-emotionally to increase appropriate learning opportunities in her classroom and other areas where she provides special-education services,” said Melvin Diggs, the executive director of Exceptional Children and Academically or Intellectually Gifted Services in Chatham County Schools. Melvin Diggs “Mrs. Allsup also brings an authentic enthusiasm and excitement to the learning environment. She is flexible enough to allow students to learn through inquiry but provides a systematic approach to learning.”

The point here is students with learning challenges can, in fact, learn, Allsup said.  

“Every student can and wants to learn. It's just a matter of figuring out how to make the curriculum accessible to them,” Allsup said. “As a teacher, my job is to provide my students with all the tools they need so that if they use them they cannot fail. This doesn't mean I don't believe in making mistakes. It means that one of the tools I need to help my students gain is a growth mindset, resilience when they face a challenge in the classroom and in life. The classroom is a collaborative space where both students and teachers are learning from each other. I never ask something of my students that I am not doing. I ask my students to hold me accountable to our classroom contract just as I hold them accountable.”

That’s not just talk, Virginia Cross Principal Sarah Chicchi said. 

"Ms. Allsup is such an advocate for all students. She has a heart for equity and always does her part not only for her students but for all VCE kids,” Chicchi said. “She always treats students with patience, kindness and respect. She is wonderful at building relationships with kids and families. EC teachers have one of the most challenging jobs. Ms. Allsup does it with such grace and skill."    

"When I think of Ms. Allsup, I think of solution-oriented. I think of her presence,” Virginia Cross Assistant Principal Nikki Murchison said. “She is centered, and she is able to help students regulate. She is like a kid whisperer. She can come into a situation and just her presence can de-escalate the environment.”

Just doing her job, Allsup said. 

“At the end of the day, I have been entrusted with young souls, and every word, action and interaction has meaning. I never know what will and will not stick with my students, and I work hard to try and ensure that what sticks with them is that they are powerful, capable, valued, loved and seen.”  

Published Sept. 24, 2019