April Todd, Berta Weathersbee teacher of the year, encourages reading through karaoke

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, December 22, 2021

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Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series on teachers of the year in Troup County.

As the students eagerly awaited the arrival of Christmas break, April Todd, a fifth grade language arts teacher at Berta Weathersbee Elementary poured hot chocolate and set up a cookie decorating station in her classroom. Todd, a LaGrange native, won the Teacher of the Year nomination for her school and is currently in her fifth year at Berta Weathersbee.

Principal Willie Cooks said he still remembers Todd’s reaction to winning the nomination back in October.

“She was very shocked. She walked up the school between all the kids, faculty and staff as we cheered for her and congratulated her,” Cooks said.

Cooks said Todd is a dedicated teacher who has helped the school and her students with their reading and language arts skills.

“Ms. Todd is a teacher [that is] dedicated, committed to putting her kids first. Every year, her kids show growth in English, language arts and reading. She is a dedicated person who is committed to excellence,” Cooks said.

Todd said she has a passion for teaching her kids and she wants to make sure her students gain skills from her class that translate to the rest of their life.

“Even when I’m tough, I love them. I do it because I don’t want to see them struggle in the future for something they could have learned now. I try to tell them that repeatedly,” Todd said.

“I don’t want you to be 31 with your own kids, and you’re struggling to teach them because of something you didn’t want to learn.”

Todd said she loves the reading aspect of her job and helping her students learn the skill.

“I love the reading aspect of it, but it can still be difficult because they’re still learning. A lot of them like the independence of it, so a lot of them don’t want you to correct them when they’re wrong,” Todd said. “You just have to find better ways to encourage them.”

Todd said to encourage her students to read, they did Christmas karaoke before the break to help them learn and practice.

“Even as an adult, I have to constantly still learn new words and try. They enjoy it. You just have to find fun ways of doing it like today we did Christmas karaoke,” she said.

Todd said she also has a personal connection to Troup County schools as she grew up in the county and went to schools here.

April Todd, left, posed with Principal Willie Cooks, right, and showed off her Teacher of the Year plaque.

“I went to West Point Elementary. Then, I graduated from Troup [High School]… It’s surreal,” Todd said.

“It was still nice because  even just coming back into the school system, I remember what we used to do. I remember what it used to be for us and for me. That was just enjoyable in itself.”

Todd said her most rewarding moments in her career come when she sees her students helping those with the things they have learned from her.

“To teach a fifth grader, [it] is always when they’re willing to help somebody else. It’s always when it’s something you’ve taught them,” she said. “They might want to go read to a kindergartener or kindergarten class.”

Todd said she is just as excited for the holiday break as her kids, although she will miss them during her time away.

“For the holidays, I’m excited. We’re at a point where we need the break, to spend time at home. I’m ready for the break, but I’m going to miss my kids,” Todd said. “When we come back, it’s the normalcy you miss.”