When asked about his proudest accomplishments in teaching, Derrik Wiggins responded, “Becoming a teacher.”
Just four years into his profession, our July Blue KC Sporting Samaritan has earned the distinction of becoming one of the youngest teachers ever to be named Kansas City Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year.
Wiggins teaches third grade at Carver Dual Language Elementary and says he considers it a great honor to help children grow as learners and as people. He not only loves teaching, but where he teaches. “The cultural diversity at Carver is fantastic. I love how we celebrate diversity and build awareness for our students on their backgrounds and the backgrounds of others.”
Wiggins said that service to others has been a guiding principle throughout his life. Advice from one of his college mentors helped determine his vision for his career path.
“Dr. Bernard Franklin told me not to chase money or prestige, but while I am young to make sure I use my passion and talent to focus on giving back to my community. The other stuff will come in time,” he said. “I really took this advice to heart.”
As for the advice Wiggins gives his students, he has a long list. He makes sure they are learning not just academic lessons, but life lessons.
“I tell them constantly to stand up and speak up for what is right; that our silence allows injustice in our communities to keep happening,” Wiggins said.
He said his students have had many opportunities to put this advice into action when fighting bullying behavior. And because of it, he said his students have grown into people who don’t stand by when they see something wrong.
Wiggins also stresses the importance of solving conflicts with words, never with violence.
“By the end of the year, they were able to see how our classroom community was made better by handling conflict in healthy and constructive ways,” he said.
Wiggins is a true believer in the power of educators to change communities for the better.
“If we see that our communities are hurting social-emotionally, mentally, economically, or that there is a lack of social justice, then we should look to our schools and ask, ‘Are we instilling a mindset and culture where these things are valued?’” he said.
Wiggins certainly is instilling that culture—and many students are benefitting.
Learn more about how you can nominate a Blue KC Sporting Samaritan. Remember you must be 21 or older to submit a nominee.