Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Olivia Mbyirukira
Congratulations to Ms.Olivia Mbyirukira of Hampton Cove Middle School, selected as this week’s Teacher Spotlight recipient!Ms. Mbyirukira comes from a long legacy of educators, and says she was inspired to teach largely due to her father, James, who was the Dean of Education at Oakwood University. She also has aunts, uncles, and cousins throughout her family that have worked as public servants, garnering her a spirit of service that she still carries with her as a Huntsville City Schools educator. When she isn’t teaching, she is part of a local book club, enjoys spending time with family and friends, and travelling. She says that her family lived a ‘global experience’ when she was growing up, due to her parents work as educator missionaries, and which included several years living in Nairobi, Kenya. Ms. Mbyirukira also enjoys music, having played the clarinet in the school band for six years.
According to Hampton Cove Middle School Principal Yvette Coley-Smith, “Ms. Mbyirukira is the kind of teacher that is going to go above and beyond for every child.” Entering Ms. Mbyirukira’s classroom, one of the first things one might notice is that the room isn’t configured in a typical fashion. Desks are arranged so that students face the middle of the room and each other, revealing a design around student engagement and discussion. This is reinforced by Ms. Mbyirukira’s great ability to get the students interested in the material. According to Ms. Coley-Smith, “we as teachers have to make that subject inviting and exciting to our students, or we’re going to lose them.” Ms. Mbyirukira says, “I think what really helps students succeed, or make progress, is knowing where we’re going, what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it.”
It’s hard to argue with the praise that her students provide for her. Cooper Williamson says, “she’s fun and dedicated to her job, and she teaches us well.” According to Chastity Gregory, “she’s a great teacher because she gets us in a way that some teachers can’t understand.”