Maryann Evans doesn’t consider the people walking into her Viera High School classroom to be just students.
And they’re certainly not just a number or a warm body filling a seat.
"When you come into my class, you’re my family," Evans said. "They’re my kids … and they’re always going to be my kids. Forever. Once a Hawk, always a Hawk. And once my kid, always my kid.
"They know that. They know I’ll go the extra mile for them."
Evans, who teaches Intensive Language Arts, has been at Viera since the school first opened in 2006.
And for the first time in her career, she has been named Viera’s Teacher of
"Maryann is passionate about helping students be successful with literacy and preparing them for life after graduation," Viera principal Sarah Robinson wrote in an email. "She is an inspiring Intensive Language Arts teacher and has a positive impact each and every day.
"Ms. Evans is an example of what a kind, giving, passionate, inspiring teacher is."
Instruction in Intensive Language Arts emphasizes reading comprehension, writing fluency and vocabulary study through the use of a variety of literary and informational texts encompassing a broad range of text structures, genres and levels of complexity
Because her students come from a variety of backgrounds, Evans has to find a way to reach each one of them.
To that end, she gives them a short survey at the beginning of the year to see what interests them, then meets with them individually.
"If they’re into video games, well, I tell them I have my own game room," she said. "I’m a gamer myself. We can connect that way. If you’re into science, I talk to them about science because I’m a big science head."
By finding that connection, Evans can then devise a plan that will not only help them graduate high school, but prepare them for college and beyond.
"Sometimes these kids will be invisible to other people," she said. "I make them visible. You just have to talk to them and be real with them.
"One of the first things I do with them is lay down a path. I ask, ‘what do you want to be when you get out of here?’ We talk to each other. If they want to be an engineer, here’s what you need to do to be an engineer. Let’s lay a pathway to engineering."
In addition to teaching for the past 25 years — 17 of them in Brevard County — the 55-year-old Evans also is active in the community. She is the sponsor of Viera High’s Environmental Club; a volunteer for the Monarch Watch Organization; a Skywarn spotter for the National Weather Service; a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International and the leader of the Charismatic Prayer Group at St. John the Evangelist Catholic community.
Being named Viera’s Teacher of the Year is quite an honor.
"It’s amazing," she said. "I’m blessed with all of my colleagues, my family of Hawks. I’m humbled."