When Deanna Gravely was a little girl, she wanted to be a teacher and had many influential cousins who were teachers. She would pretend to write on a chalkboard of her fictional classroom and line up her stuffed animals and dolls in a row as if they were sitting at their desks.
Gravely started her career teaching English, but after finding the classroom too predictable, she became a librarian.
Gravely has been in education for 20 years and has taught middle and high school. She said she enjoys teaching older students because she can joke around with them and push them to the next level. “You can encourage them … [and] I think we have a really strong hand in that at the high school level,” she said.
Gravely has been a librarian at Carver College and Career Academy for four years and said she enjoys working with the entire student population and getting to do pretty much what she wants to do.
“Students can come down here at lunch time and I have my normal crowd that comes for lunch, so it’s almost like they’re my class,” she said. “I get to know them really well. I know pretty much every student in the school.”
Although Gravely isn’t primarily in the classroom, she teaches a journalism class with a focus on TV broadcasting. Student interest led her to create the class, and she applied for and won a $5,000 MCD grant in 2017 that paid for the equipment. She is also in charge of a “creative canvas” class, which the principal allowed her to run last year, since the school doesn’t have an art teacher.
Gravely still keeps in touch with former students and has encouraged some of them to pursue careers in mass communication and English.
“Being able to inspire those students, that is part of your legacy,” Gravely said. “It’s pretty awesome.”
“It just makes you feel like you matter, like you’re important, that you’re an important part of the school,” Gravely said of receiving the “Teacher of the Year” award. “When your colleagues nominate you and say these good things about you in their nominations, and they vote you ‘Teacher of the Year,’ it’s very, very humbling.”
Gravely earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in secondary education from King University in Bristol, Tenn., and a master’s degree from Longwood University in Farmville.