Last week I receieved a letter from a very special lady named Stephanie Herndon, whose love for her husband and for baseball has contributed to the love she has for her job and her students.  Enjoy… 

Mr. Ramsey,

I am very excited about the opportunity for my class to be mentioned on the Better Off Red blog. 

My name is Stephanie Herndon and I am a third-grade teacher at Clear Creek Elementary in Shelbyville, Ky.  I have been teaching for 14 years and this was the first year that I looped with my students.  What looping means is I taught second grade last year and I moved up with my class to the third grade.  Seventeen of my 22 students were with me last year.  This class has been a very special class and I have thoroughly enjoyed being their teacher. 

Last year as second-graders we were the “Happy Herndon” with bright yellow smiley face t-shirts, which was great.  As I prepared for the new year, knowing that I would have the same students again I tried to think of a way to motivate them in a fun and exciting way.  The smiley face thing was ok (at least for the girls it was) but I wanted to motivate my whole class. 

My husband, John Herndon, sports editor of The Anderson News, and I went on our annual trip to Cincinnati to spend the night and go to a Reds game for our anniversary.  My husband is a huge Reds fan.  As we visited the sites of Cincinnati including the replica of old Crosley Field and the Reds Hall of Fame, where I was reminded of baseball’s prominent place in American History, I was picking my husband’s brain for ideas for a class name and theme. 

I came up with several names before “Home Run Herndons.”  Right away, my husband said, “I think you should go with “Home Run Herndons.”  I decided that I would make the connection with school/education and baseball. 

I did this in many ways for example:  Each day our schedule is a “game plan”, we have learning targets that we use in our unit plans and I called those our “Strike Zone”; we had a wall of fame where I included many different baseball players and famous quotes  then eventually I started to put student work on this board; we have our helper’s chart entitled “Look Who’s Pitching in”….it is the baseball diamond with students’ names on baseballs and they rotate around the field in different position for the week with different classroom jobs.

I had my wall of fame with my accomplishments in education; we have a bulletin board that is “Home Run Herndons Press Box” with lots of classroom information (schedules, lunch menu, etc.); the door to our classroom says “Home Run Herndons Dugout with our team roster (class name tags which they come in and put on their locker door, this is how I do attendance); our reading corner is “Who’s on Deck – Reading is a hit with us!!!”; our safe place is our “Bull Pen”; our behavior/discipline polices for our school procedures is called “3 Strikes You’re Out”; I have pods of tables that are labeled with the farm teams for the Reds, and our community circle carpet is a baseball diamond. 

I chose all this because I really wanted to motivate my students to do well and I thought baseball was a fun game. We even had a small section on a wall dedicated to a local boy who had made it big, Lee Tinsley, who played major league baseball and was a coach for the Mariners and Diamondbacks.

We talked a lot at the beginning of the year how baseball takes endurance, team work, practice and focus. So does school. 

We had class t-shirts made up with Home Run Herndons on the front and our class motto on the back “We are going to knock it out of the park………….socially, emotionally, academically, and physically.”  Those four words were the bases.  These are words that our district uses in its motto.

The student and parent buy-in was tremendous.  The students have been motivated all year with this theme.  We have gotten so many compliments throughout the building and the district.  I just really wanted my students to be successful in everything they did whether it was big or little.  Baseball was just the common ground we started on and things sky-rocketed from there. 

With the help of my husband and his love of baseball, I have been able to accomplish my goal for my students: To give them every opportunity possible to learn and grow.  I know I am not the best teacher in the world but I love each of my students and want what is best for them.  I will miss this class next year and I am just so grateful that you are giving us this opportunity to share our story with Reds fans

Thank you!!
Stephanie Herndon

PS:  My class is planning a class trip to watch a Red game on Saturday, April 28th. I know we are not a big deal to the Reds but my students are a HUGE deal to me and they are just so excited that we are going to see the Reds play together.

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Wow! What a cool teacher. We need more like her. Keep up the good work.

Wow!!! I can only hope my daughter ends up with teachers like that when she gets to school. You can really tell that she cares about those kids.

This is awesome! What a clever teacher! I’ll bet the kids just love her because of all of the effort she puts into them and their classroom! And best of all, it all makes them want to learn because they see how much she cares. I really think the Reds’ organization should do something special for them when they come to the game on April 28….maybe recognize them on the field while showing these pictures on the videoboard and having Joe Z read her letter. Maybe she could throw out the first pitch. Just think they should be recognized.

Ahh. But Ive learned that every fan is a big deal fof the Reds. Great story!

As a teacher myself I think it is awoesme to see others do big things fro their students. Teachers do so much that gets overlooked but ultimately mean so much to the students! Keep it up!

My 2 sons have had 19 teachers to date. I know that teachers work hard, but no teacher has ever worked this much to make learning fun and relate it to something real in their lives. There are few words to describe a teacher like Mrs. Herndon. I hope her school nominates her for teacher of the year!

I disagree with Stephanie. She is the BEST teacher. Anyone who puts in that much thought and effort into their job could only be the best. We need more teachers like her. Her dedication is inspiring. It is especially wonderful considering the level of support (financially and otherwise) she probably gets from the school system itself. Thank you, Stephanie! Keep up the good work.

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Wow, I barely remember third grade. I suspect these kids will remember third grade forever. Great job Mrs. H!

WOW!! I truly hope the parents of these lucky students appreciate what a gem she is!! Kudos to Mrs. Herndon for going the extra mile to motivate and keep her students engaged in learning!! We could use more like her in our education system!!🙂

Mrs. Herndon teaches my daughter and she truly is THE BEST. I’m afraid we’re going to be lost without her next year. My child has grown leaps and bounds in her classroom.

I also disagree with Stephanie in this – she & her Class ARE a big deal to the REDS. also by using baseball, she (perhaps UNknowingly) is planting seeds for future Life-long Reds fans in these kids. Stephanie, You Are an Awesome teacher, keep up your love of teaching & Your students!

WOW! What a wonderful way to motivate and engage students! I am sure your students love to come to school everyday! It is evident that you are dedicated and committed to your students. Thank you for working to ensure your students are motivated, engaged and successful! Impressive.
Sheila Mitchell, Superintendent
Anderson County Schools, Kentucky

Great story! Wonderful way to inspire students!

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