The official biography below was current at the time of the award.
Zahra O’Reilly-Bates has been an educator for 19 years at the Ricardo Richards Elementary School. Her tenure as a teacher began as a kindergarten through sixth grade substitute for five months. She then spent one year teaching third grade; two years as a first grade teacher; ten years teaching fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in the gifted and talented class; two years as the Numeracy Coach; and has been teaching all subjects, fourth to sixth graders in the gifted and talented class for the past four years.
Zahra strives to build organizational capacity to boost student learning and achievement in mathematics through building a professional community and culture that is characterized by best practices, collaborative activity, and collective responsibility among all stakeholders. Her favorite quote by Lance Menster states it best: "If our goal is to create mathematically powerful children, then we must also create mathematically powerful teachers." This belief led to the creation of a mathematics lab. This lab is where teachers come to explore the authentic connections between mathematics concepts and everyday life.
A highly engaged activity for students this year was the geometry-in-the-home project. Students classified; measured; calculated area, perimeter, volume; and found NETS of various objects in their homes.
Zahra has been coaching the MathCounts Team for the past 14 years. In 2019, she received the St. Croix District Teacher of the Year award, and in 2020, she won the Virgin Islands State Teacher of the Year award.
Zahra earned a B.A., magna cum laude, in elementary education from the University of the Virgin Islands; an M.Ed. in instructional design and technology from American InterContinental University; and is certified in elementary education.
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