Eldridge has been named as one of eight state finalists for Gifted Teacher of the Year - congratulations!
First Flight Elementary School AIG (Academically or Intellectually Gifted) teacher Tricia Eldridge is Dare County’s nominee for the 2011 North Carolina Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted Award, sponsored by the NC Association for the Gifted and Talented (NCAGT). Eldridge is in her 16th year of teaching; her fifth year as gifted teacher at First Flight Elementary.
Eldridge's credentials are impressive. She is quick to admit that she did not, as child, have dreams of becoming a teacher as did so many of her peers. Her career choice was made consciously as a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was based primarily on her strengths and potential for personal and professional fulfillment. Once she chose her path, Eldridge has committed herself to maintaining a standard of excellence that makes her a standout teacher, mentor, collaborator and resource.
"As my decision to become a teacher became clear, I set off on a journey that has given me moments of insight that I never thought possible,' reflects Eldridge. "The degree I received stated I could now 'be' a teacher, but to 'become' a teacher I continually build on my experience and knowledge both in the classroom and through observation of fellow teachers."
Eldridge began her career at Fuller Gifted and Talented Magnet School in Raleigh, serving initially in second grade and then kindergarten classrooms. She then served as Instructional Resource Teacher for grades K-5 at three triangle area schools. After completing 180 course-hours of post-graduate studies to obtain certification in Academically Gifted Grades K-12 in 2005, Eldridge was hired as FFES AIG Facilitator in the fall of 2006.
FFES colleague Paulette Jones says that Eldridge is "a smart, innovative and dynamic educator. She assists instructional team members by searching out educational strategies and techniques; she encourages students to challenge themselves through the use of critical thinking and problem solving skills. Trish does whatever it takes for all children to be successful!"
All means "all" for Eldridge, who doesn't stop with seeing her gifted students reach success. “My firm belief that all children can learn drives my instructional strategies,” asserts Eldridge. “I feel that my role as gifted facilitator should encourage students to think ‘deeper’ and more critically about the instruction taking place. I believe that participating in stimulating discussions, making and evaluating choices, working with a team, and reflecting on one’s own learning will help gifted students evolve into 21st century ‘thinkers’ that will make a real difference in our society.”
Judi Hornbeck, Dare County Schools Director of Elementary Instruction, provides leadership for the district's AIG programs across levels.
“Tricia is extremely creative and effectively integrates higher level thinking skills throughout the elementary curriculum,” notes Hornbeck. “Her enthusiasm for learning is contagious as students find that the pursuit of knowledge is challenging and rewarding. With her collaborative style and problem-solving approach, Tricia is highly regarded by her peers and has been instrumental in the development and implementation of professional learning communities at First Flight Elementary.”
Despite being in demand throughout the school day, Eldridge makes time to coordinate the schools’ annual spelling and geography bees, and FFES' Odyssey of the Mind and Fiction Digger! teams. In addition to her selection for the district's AIG award, Eldridge is First Flight Elementary School Teacher of the Year for 2010.