Dr. Joan Teach Awarded Educator of the Year

by Andrea Wackerle

We are so pleased to congratulate one of our SOAR Board Members, Dr. Joan Teach on her recent award as 2015 CHADD Educator of the Year at the annual CHADD conference in New Orleans on November 14, 2015. Joan Teach has been a long-time supporter of SOAR’s programs.  She has facilitated many trips to the Balsam Base for the Middle School Students from Lullwater School and has been able to experience the positive attitude shown toward the campers, the understanding of their needs both strong and fragile, and the quality staff that brings out the best in all of them.  

Dr. Teach has been a special educator working with the LD/ADHD population since 1960 and served as the Principal/Director of the Lullwater School until her retirement in 2005. After retiring Joan has been active as the President of LDA Georgia, President of the Board for Kids Enabled, Director of the Community Resource Center in Atlanta and started a collaborative group, GOLD, Georgia Opportunities for Learning Differences. She designs and presents workshops for parents, adults with LD/ADHD and females with ADHD in Atlanta as well as speaks at conferences such as LDA and CHADD. She serves on the Board of SOAR, an environmental outdoor program combining positive approach to esteem building and character development.  Joan also has a passion for the LDA Healthy Children’s Project volunteering her efforts to reduce the incidence of learning disabilities in future populations.  She also travels around the world educating individuals in other countries about the struggles of females and others with LD/ADHD through game simulation.  Congratulations Joan Teach!

After receiving this award, Dr. Teach shared these encouraging words.

Thank you. I’m one of those 15 million with ADHD  – And you expect me to say thank you and sit down? I bring instead a challenge for CHADD. On January 28, 1986 Christa Maculliffe took off in the Challenger as the first teacher in space. We know the story, but Christa left us with a legacy: To Teach is to Touch a Life Forever

This has become my mantra, and that of many educators that I have known. But our society has changed. Today’s opinion of teachers is negative, demoralizing and demeaning. It is time we raise the self-esteem of those who teach our children and point instead to what a teacher can really do. I want these young educators to go to cocktail parties where everyone is sharing their so important positions, I’m a lawyer, accountant, anesthesiologist, etc. They need to respond I AM AN EDUCATOR, stated with confidence and with their head held high.

Therefore, my Challenge –  I believe CHADD can begin a groundswell that reaches across the nation and informs society of all the things teachers are doing right. We need to combat the bad press. Atlanta Public Schools certainly have had their fair share.

If we could just start a movement to:


Think of the impact it would have. Like when a SMILE given genuinely to another, makes that person smile back and then they pass it onto the next person they meet, and on it goes.  This phenomena is so impressive. So could AFFIRMING A TEACHER’S GOOD WORK.

If we spread good feeling, raise self esteem, we then encourage that teacher to try harder to make an even bigger impact. It’s a human nature at its best. Teachers never went into the profession for the BIG BUCKS, but the BIG REWARDS they feel WHEN A CHILD SUCCEEDS.

Let’s make a difference that can spread from town to town with a life of its own. Think of the impact positive affirmation would have on our society’s opinion of teachers.

Help us all learn that:

  • When a child acts out, we must find patience
  • When a child is withdrawn and retreats, question his security
  • When a child retreats into his own world, give him a road on which to return
  • When academics become a quandary, provide the route around that brick wall
  • When a child accomplishes the first, a new way, succeeds in any form, thank a teacher
  • And when the day is done, and your precious someone is sound asleep, cherish the time you have put into helping him to grow and to learn, for your name is PARENT and your child is blessed to have you in his life.

I thank all of you for what you have accomplished. Please take this challenge and see what we can do to provide our world with a brighter future.