MNPS Voices: Rachel Drake

MNPS Voices: Rachel Drake, 4th Grade Teacher, McGavock Elementary School
Posted on 09/27/2023
Rachel Drake

Rachel Drake

Metro Schools believes a great, high-quality education entails more than just conventional academic knowledge of math, science, language arts, and social studies. It is also the understanding and nurturing of a student’s social and emotional intelligence.

McGavock Elementary School, affectionately known as the "little school on top of the hill," and Rachel Drake, a dedicated 4th grade English Language Arts teacher, serve as shining examples of this idea.  Rachel Drake in class

McGavock boasts a diverse student body, with children and families hailing from 14 countries. The school celebrates cultural diversity, and every student is encouraged to reach their fullest potential, both academically and personally.

Through her teaching, Drake exemplifies MNPS’s commitment to social-emotional learning (SEL). She skillfully incorporates and builds upon the five crucial components of SEL: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. 

SEL is crucial to students’ development. It helps with essential life skills such as self-awareness, empathy, and emotional regulation, the foundations for academic success and positive relationships. SEL also helps foster a positive classroom environment by managing behaviors and reinforcing positive emotional regulations and acceptance.

“I believe the SEL competencies are the parts of us that make us human, and they’re the soft skills that are needed in every workforce as an adult,” Drake said. “I’m training kids for jobs that probably don’t exist, but these are the skills they can take with them regardless of the job or industry.”

McGavock Elementary takes a proactive approach to nurturing the emotional well-being of students. Calm Corners provide students with a designated space to pause, reflect, and understand their feelings. Teachers like Drake also find solace in these corners, setting an example for their students.

Self-Reflection and Self-Regulation

Through Drake’s actions and her teaching techniques rooted in SEL, she encourages students to embrace breaks and self-reflect through tactics such as deep breathing and mindfulness.

“We have such a good foundation here for helping teach kids how to regulate themselves,” she said.

Drake’s favorite lesson where she incorporates SEL is when her class reads Hatchet, a wilderness survival novel that is, at times, emotionally heavy. Her class reads the book around a campfire they make from butcher paper and tea lights.

“We have some tough conversations, and I let them express how it made them feel to read about this character who’s not much older than them going through these extreme situations.”

Drake’s sincerity and warmth resonate with students, parents, and the school staff. McGavock Elementary Principal Rae Covey acknowledges the profound impact Drake has on her students through her innovative and interactive lessons. 

“She loves teaching, and as a result, her students love learning. Her strong teacher efficacy, her belief that her work impacts student learning, has created a classroom atmosphere that is both rigorous and supportive,” Covey said.

Drake’s teachings are a compelling reminder of how important SEL is to students’ education and growth. As Metro Schools continues to prioritize SEL, we are not only helping shape brighter futures but also cultivating a more compassionate community, and it’s the unwavering support and guidance of teachers like Drake we must thank for this endeavor.

Learn More

Read more about MNPS’s emphasis on social-emotional learning, a key part of the district’s mission to make Every Student Known.

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