RAYTOWN, Mo. — The final winner for the One Class at a Time series is Anna Worley.
Worley is a music teacher at Blue Ridge Elementary in the Raytown C-2 School District.
This academic year is Worley's first year as a teacher. She describes her first year in two words: unforgettable and memorable.
"I mean I definitely don't think anyone ever forgets their first year of teaching," Worley said. "But first year of teaching in a global pandemic just takes the cake!"
The University of Missouri-Kansas City graduate is now teaching music classes in person.
From drums to xylophones and cymbals, the sounds now take over her classroom.
But in the beginning, instruments were put up and a quiet classroom meant Worley had to use a different note.
"We started the year completely virtual, which was definitely an adjustment for me being a first-year teacher," Worley said. "We got from having all of this wonderful stuff in my room to teaching them with nothing, so we had to adjust teaching them with found sounds."
She created a virtual music program, in an effort to connect students through music.
One person who saw the hard work Worley was doing was a teacher herself and also someone Worley knew very well: her mom.
"Since there were no in-person concerts this year, Anna has worked very hard teaching the students songs, writing dialogue, choreographing dances and making props," Worley's mom, Debbie O'Renick said. "This has been a collaborative effort with other teachers and the students participating. This is all so she can upload a virtual end-of-year program for students and parents to view from home."
It was a surprise Worley was not expecting.
"Thank you," Worley said with excitement.
Her mom saw her daughter go above and beyond and it didn't go unnoticed.
"She took recorders to their houses so that they could still do their recorders because they weren't all in school and they weren't all going to be able to get the recorders," O'Renick said.
"Teachers really do work our hardest so whenever we do get a little bit of recognition for it, it's nice and it's nice to see that my mom thinks great things of me," Worley said.
Debbie has a message for her daughter.
"Keep going, keep loving the kids like you do," she said. "Congratulations and I think that Blue Ridge is very happy lucky to have Anna. She has a teacher's heart and that's the important thing."
Worley said one of the reasons she got into teaching was her UMKC professor, Dr. Robinson, who suggested giving teaching a try.
"I tried it and fell in love with it," Worley said.
Worley hasn't had the "normal" teaching experience because her student teaching was when the pandemic started. The second she got into elementary school, they were in person for about a week, and then went completely virtual. She's excited to experience teaching and seeing the students' faces in person.
Worley is also an assistant director of the youth choir at the Music Arts Institute in Independence, Missouri, and has been able to offer scholarships to interested students from Blue Ridge to be members of the choir.
To learn more about past winners, visit the One Class at a Time page.