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Dream Big, Do Good: Ozark Teacher Wins $1,000

The sign in Tori McBain’s office says “Everyone smiles in the same language.”

And the smiles on her and the faces of her students say it all. Silver Dollar City recently notified McBain, an English-language learner teacher at Ozark South and West elementary schools, that she won $1,000 in the Dream Big, Do Good campaign for teachers.

“I was shocked to hear that I won their Dream Big, Do Good Award. There were 10 recipients out of the hundreds that were nominated,” said McBain. “I won $1,000 to spend on school resources. I haven't even started spending yet, but I am excited to have the extra funds to spend on my students.”

English-language learner (ELL) teachers work with students who are bilingual or whose first language in the home is not English. In South and West elementary schools alone, that’s more than 70 students.

“I teach language vocabulary and do a lot of co-teaching with the classroom teacher,” McBain said.

Nominated by students, parents or community members, 10 teachers from Missouri and Arkansas were selected for the Dream Big, Do Good campaign.

“The Dream Big, Do Good campaign is in conjunction with the park’s new world record-setting roller coaster Time Traveler,” according to a press release from Silver Dollar City. “Inspired by revolutionary thinkers of past, present and future, Time Traveler is an innovative ride that encourages others to dream without boundaries and realize the impossible is possible.”

And McBain is dreaming big. She said since starting at Ozark School District five years ago, she has seen ELL increase from about 30 to nearly 300 students, most who speak Russian. The District employs three ELL teachers.

“While I work with ELL students, all students are language learners,” she said. “So the strategies for ELL students work on all students.”

McBain said her sister nominated her for the award and she is thankful for her family support.

“This is a job I really love and am passionate about but a lot of people don’t know about it,” she said. “I appreciate that my sister sees how hard I work.”

McBain said she hasn’t spent any of the $1,000 yet, but plans to include her students in the decision.

“I would like to have more resources, such as bilingual books, in hand that we can give classroom teachers so students feel like they are part of the classroom community from the beginning,” she said.

Students at West Elementary celebrate English-language learner teacher Tori McBain’s recent Dream Big, Do Good award.