Applemania Cook Bradford is a passionate educator, a charismatic leader, an innovator wife, and mother. The Florida native is a two-time alumna of Florida A&M University. Over the past eight years as an educator in the Rockdale County School District in Georgia, she has been dedicated to cultivating, empowering and serving her academic community.
Bradford is currently a doctoral candidate pursuing a degree in curriculum and instruction. When she is not teaching or working on her dissertation, she spends time managing her nonprofit, Teacher B.A.E. Inc.
She spoke with rolling out about the importance of National Teacher Appreciation Month, which is celebrated across the nation each May, and empowering teachers through her nonprofit.
In your estimation, what does it take to be a good teacher?
In order to be an exemplary teacher, I believe that it requires a myriad of attributes. I believe that being a good listener allows you to hear the things that students don’t say. From observing my students’ body language, I have been able to provide resources to those that needed family support. When someone learns that you are willing to listen, it creates a strong rapport.
Having a nurturing spirit is key in the education profession. I tell my students that we are one family. A strong support system consists of coaches, mentors [and] administrators, and partnerships with parents [are] essential. Each will contribute to the support and growth of the teacher, which in turn will create an environment for students to thrive.
What is the importance of teacher appreciation?
Educators feel unappreciated due to the lack of support from administrators and parental involvement. I believe that it is a humanistic proclivity for individuals to desire acknowledgment for hard work. As an educator, teacher appreciation is of ultimate importance.
Studies have shown that employees who receive recognition are more productive, engaged and willing to go the extra mile. My contribution to the next generation is my passion. I cultivate young minds for a cause, not applause, however, it is a priceless feeling to be acknowledged for the tireless work to ensure that my students are prepared.
You were awarded Teacher of the Year for the 2016-2017 academic year. What does this honor mean to you?
The Teacher of the Year Award is the Heisman Award within the education industry. [It] is an honor because your commitment to education speaks loudly among your colleagues. The award is earned by faculty voting on the teacher they believe possesses great leadership skills and one whose impact goes beyond the classroom.
Tell us about your nonprofit, Teacher B.A.E. Inc.
Teacher B.A.E. Inc. is a network of female educators who work to provide support [and] mentorship [and] serve communities and students beyond the classroom. My objective as CEO and founder is to help other educators have a balanced life. Teacher B.A.E. Inc. focuses on [the] four pillars [of] M.U.A.H:
Mentorship and coaching for rookie teachers;
Unity among teachers;
Awareness [of] self and self-care; and,
Helping the community thrive.