Denise Pranger named one of Confluence Charter School’s Educators of the Year


Submitted by Madeline Farrell

Denise Pranger, Middle School English teacher, poses with Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver, CEO of Confluence Charter Schools, and Gina Bell-Moore, GCAA Upper Academy Principal, after being surprised with her award.

Paisley Regester, Staff Writer

Denise Pranger, Middle School English teacher, has been awarded Confluence’s Educator of the Year award.

The award was announced at an All-Staff Professional Development meeting held in the Sun Theater. Seven teachers, who had each been nominated by their respective schools, were brought onto stage and given goodie bags and T-shirts reading “Teacher of the Year”. Each educator had a video presented about their contributions to their school before the voting commenced to determine the winner of the award.

The first round of voting ended in a tie between Pranger and Jennifer Luker from Confluence Preparatory Academy. The board attempted to vote again, resulting in two more ties, before finally declaring both teachers winners of the award. “They said the team voted and they had a tie, so they voted again, and again, and again, but decided that these two educators really deserved it and called it a tie” Pranger said.

As a reward for their hard work, each educator received a check for $500.

“I was surprised,” said Pranger. “The coolest part of it was they had this great big cardboard check and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve always wanted one of those.’”

Before these awards were presented, individuals in attendance were treated with performances from both GCAA and Aspire Academy students. GCAA’s choir opened up the ceremony, and Aspire Academy’s RISE dancers performed an interpretive piece halfway through the program. The Aspire Elite Step Team closed the event.

The formal program began with a speech from Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver, CEO of Confluence Charter Schools. Support Staff members from each school were recognized before Pranger and Luker were given their awards. Some unique awards were given out as well, including Rookie of the Year award, the “Dilly Dilly” award, the “Techie” award, and the “Cheerleader” awards. Additional recognition was given to staff members who had been working with Confluence for five, ten, and fifteen years.

Pranger, herself, has been teaching at GCAA for six years, and has loved getting to know the unique and creative personalities of each of her students. She has always been passionate about teaching, specifically Language Arts.

“I can remember from age five and up, all I ever wanted to be was a teacher. There was no question for anything else… I love teaching the novels, developing the stories, and watching the kids say ‘I’ve never read a book before, this is the first time I’ve ever finished’… When they really get into a novel, I just love to see them light up,” Pranger said. 

Pranger is also motivated by the challenges that teaching presents.

“I think the toughest part of teaching is knowing what you have to teach, and putting it in a direction that makes your students relate to it and see its importance, and I think that’s probably the most challenging thing: trying to make sure you can relate it all back to the kids.”

When asked what piece of advice she would give to those pursuing teaching, she responded, “If teachers are not prepared for the challenges that kids present, and their heart isn’t really in it for the kids, then don’t go into teaching at all. Every single day you’re in that classroom, remember you may be the only face that students have got for that day. They may be having a bad day and your job is to make their day the best, and if you don’t, then I don’t think you’re teaching.”