Carrie Sikes, fifth-grade science teacher at Oakland Avenue Charter School, is a member of the school’s Curriculum Team and School Leadership Team. Sikes committed three days a week after school the entire school year in 2022-23 to provide afterschool learning clinics to her students. She dedicated half of the summer break to providing learning and enrichment camps.
“Carrie is an outstanding teacher,” principal Pam Dwyer said. “She was pivotal in OACS achieving the fourth-highest student performance rating in Orange County Public Schools for fifth-grade science last year. Ninety-one percent of our fifth-graders from the 2022-23 school year earned proficiency level on the Science FCAT.
When she taught in Georgia, Sikes was Teacher of the Year twice and a finalist for a third year in Clayton County.
What brought you to your school?
My family and I moved to Winter Garden during the pandemic due to my husband’s job transfer. I met an OACS teacher at a cheer competition, and she told me about the amazing staff and family atmosphere. Toward the end of the 2020-21 school year, I was a fill-in teacher for fourth- and fifth-grade science. Those two months, I created amazing memories with the students and teachers. Upon the end of that school year, I was asked to become a full-time faculty member and have loved teaching here ever since.
What do you love most about your school?
The family-like atmosphere. “Family” is our motto, and we are centered around the word. Everyone is family to me, whether it’s a student and their families or a fellow teacher. I too am very family oriented, so I immediately fell in love with the OACS atmosphere. This school embodies the word “family,” and I am very blessed to teach at such an amazing school.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love teaching. I am living my dream each day by teaching children for 26 years. This profession is tough, but it is also the most rewarding. Seeing the growth my students make from the beginning of the school year to the end is what makes this career so special. I truly enjoy being a part of each student’s journey through education, and hope that I made a difference.
What would you be if you weren’t in this profession?
If I were not a teacher, I would be a flight attendant. I have always loved traveling the world and seeing new places. I have made numerous memories with my family throughout the different trips we have made.
Who influences you?
My family is my biggest influence. I have two daughters and one son, and they push me to be the best version of myself every day. Life is not always easy, but seeing them become successful in their lives is what keeps me going.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
Robert Munsch’s “Stephanie’s Ponytail.” When my daughters were growing up, I had one daughter that loved to wear ponytails and one that did not. The whole ponytail situation would be relatable to the girls. They began to love this book, so every night this was our go-to book for nightly reads.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have three children who are involved in extracurricular sports. My oldest daughter plays collegiate soccer, my middle daughter is a cheerleader, and my son is in Jui Jitsu and baseball. I am a proud mother, so I spend my spare time getting to be their biggest cheerleader and their most adoring fan.
If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?
If I could dine with any famous person, I would choose Jimmy Carter. President Carter is known for winning the prestigious Noble Peace Prize and was a true advocate for human rights. Having dinner with him, I would inquire about the ins and outs of creating Habitat for Humanity. Through his actions, he demonstrates what it means to advocate for those less fortunate. His desire to serve others is admirable and inspiring.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I wish I could go back in time. Getting the chance to go back in time to talk and hug my family members that I have lost throughout the years would be very special.
If you could only listen to three bands or artists, who would they be and why?
I am a totally Swiftie, so I would listen to Taylor Swift. During our family road trips, or driving around town with my children, we sing her songs, which creates so much laughter and joy. Growing up in Georgia, country music was all I listened to. George Strait is my go-to country music artist. I have never been lucky enough to see him in concert, so this would be on my bucket list. Casting Crowns originates from McDonough, Georgia, which is our hometown. The leader of Casting Crowns (Mark Hall) was our children’s youth pastor at our church. Therefore, this group is near and dear to our hearts.
What was your go-to lunch and favorite snack as an elementary student?
My go to lunch was a ham sandwich with light mayo and a side of Cheetos. To this day, this is still my favorite go-to lunch.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
My favorite holiday is Christmas because this is when I am able to spend the most time with my children. I have two older daughters who are both in college, so I hardly get to see them unless it’s a holiday. During Christmas time, my girls are able to come home and spend time with their brother. All three of my children bake cookies, watch Christmas movies and spend time together. This holiday is all about family, and I cherish every minute of the Christmas season.