Educator Spotlight: Gena Casey, 5th-grade teacher, Avondale Elementary


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There are those who believe that everyone has a calling or a purpose in life and Gena Casey is one of them. When asked how she got to where she is now, she simply said, “I felt I was called to be a teacher.” Gena Casey graduated from Mountain Brook High School and decided to extend her education at the University of Alabama. She began there as a theatre major, but wrestled with her passion for educating children. She decided to change her major to elementary education and graduated in 2012. After teaching 5th grade at Maxwell Elementary, in Tuscaloosa, AL, she decided to bring her talents back to Birmingham at Avondale Elementary where she has been for a year, teaching 5th grade.


Enjoying Ms. Casey’s homemade, healthy smoothies.

Casey is very open to engaging with her students inside and outside of the school walls. She shows up to their sporting events and other activities to encourage them and she worked with Ed staffer Marshall Pollard as part of the Home Visit Teacher Cohort, which uses the Flamboyan Foundation curriculum. This is where she visited the homes of her students to build better relationships with them and their families.

As part of the Woodlawn Foundation’s Woodlawn Innovation Network, Avondale Elementary has undergone significant changes to create better academic opportunities for students. Of this transition, Casey notes, “Communicating high expectations and high hope is a powerful thing” and she sees the results of those kinds of expectations everyday. She sums up her pedagogy with advice to other teachers, saying, “Stay child focused, all the time and always keep your mind on the children.”


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“To me, Ed represents opportunities for students,” said Casey. “Ed proves that kids can learn and contribute anything and Ed provides that opportunity. Ed gets them where they need to be.” Gena, Ed thanks you for the positive influence you have on your students. Continue to build relationships with them and have fun doing it.

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