Shneequa Francis makes lasting impact on students at Halstead Academy

Teachers can make an impact on their students long after those students leave the classroom. You'll find an example of that in Shneequa Francis.

Francis is a fourth grade teacher at Halstead Academy, and the winner of this month's ABC2/MECU Teachers Are Heroes award.

When Francis first thought about what she wanted to do in life, computer sciences came to mind. Her mom had a different idea.

"My mom finally said 'why don't you think about becoming a teacher? I think you'd be really good at it.'"

Francis took her mom's advice, got her degree in education and started teaching at Halstead Academy. Sixteen years later, she's still going strong as an elementary school teacher.

"Those first foundation years are so critical and I wanted to be a part of helping the students find themselves first, and then as they continue to flourish," said Francis. "I want them to come back and go 'look, Ms. Francis, look at what you taught me, look at what I've become."

You'll find one of Francis' many success stories still in her classroom. Niehla Carter had Francis as a third grade teacher in 2001. Today, Carter is an instructional aid at Halstead and is going to nursing school, at the encouragement of her former teacher.

"Every time I see her, she's like "you alright, I'm so proud of you I'm so proud of you,'" said Carter. "And just hearing that and feeling that makes you feel better as a person."

"I've seen the young lady that she has become and I'd like to think I had a tiny bit to do with the young woman that she has become," said Francis.

The drive and ambition she instilled in Carter is what Francis wants for every student who walks through her door. And she'll use every tool and resource she has to make it happen.

"We lay the foundation for our students, to help them understand education is your way out, it's your way to achieve your goals, your dreams."

When asked if she could see herself doing another job, she laughed and gave an emphatic "no."

"I can't see myself being passionate about another job."

It looks like her mom called this one right.

To nominate a teacher for the Teachers Are Heroes award, click here.

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