Waggener is a fourth grade teacher at Hayes Cooper Center and teaches math, science and social studies.
"Personally, I love this grade because the students really become independent in a variety of ways. They begin to think outside the box and are able to solve more complex math problems. This is also the grade that students begin to manage their time better and become independent thinkers and learners. I also love that they still have that innocence trait to their personalities," said Waggener.
Waggener said she came to Cleveland after her husband Stephen accepted an assistant baseball position at Delta State University.
"We were thankful that this job opportunity brought us back home to the south from Indianapolis, Ind. The following year I was offered a job at Hayes Cooper after being a substitute for the district. We love the community of Cleveland and feel blessed to be active members of such a thriving community," she said.
Waggener said that she loves working at Hayes Coopers because of the welcoming and positive atmosphere.
"I love the people I work with here at Hayes Cooper! The moment you walk through the doors, you are always greeted with a smile by one of our faculty or staff members and students. You can walk the halls and see evidence of great teaching going on in each grade level.
"Our administrator is also supportive and is willing to go the extra mile to make our school great. Every year I enjoy getting to know the parents and appreciate their support throughout the year. It is especially neat when I am able to teach siblings — we almost immediately start the year out with a unique connection," she said.
Waggener explained she has wanted to become a teacher since a very young age.
"I have always wanted to be a teacher, beginning as a young child. Every afternoon I would come home and teach the same lessons my teachers taught at school that day. My teachers played a large role in my life throughout the years. I was fortunate to always know my calling in life and at such an early age. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else! I believe in this profession, you must have a passion for what you do if you want to be successful."
Waggener said some of her favorite aspects of teaching are seeing students reach their goals.
"I love seeing the growth in my students from the beginning of the year to the end. This is the most rewarding aspect of being a teacher. I enjoy being able to establish relationships with them in that they learn to trust me and want to work hard to achieve their goals."
Waggener said she was very surprised to have received the award due to the quality of teachers in the Cleveland School District.
"I have to admit that receiving this honor at Hayes Cooper was exciting enough. When I received the news from Dr. Thigpen I was a little shocked based on the other qualified district nominees. I have to admit that being selected as Teacher of the Year does make you feel that others appreciate the time and effort you have put forth in the classroom. However, the moments that I have when my students finally master a concept or think outside the box are the teaching moments that personally validate my hard work," she explained.
"I am very grateful for this opportunity to represent Cleveland School District. I feel blessed to be a part of this district and the opportunities they have given me throughout the years by providing professional development trainings and workshops. I have been provided with support on all levels throughout the district and for that I am extremely grateful," she added.