Bowen's Corner Elementary
1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?
Each morning I stand at my door to greet my students and welcome them to a new day. We begin each day with a morning meeting to set a positive tone for our day and discuss anything that might be different for us. During lunch, two students have “reserved” seats with me. I enjoy this time to get to know the interests, fears, and joys of these students a little bit better each week. Small groups are our favorite time of day. Students enjoy seeing what technology tool they will use, meeting with their group, and they always get a kick out of the big glasses I wear as a reminder to other students that this is my special time with that particular group and that they will need to ask a friend for help. About five minutes before dismissal, my students are frantically packing up their bookbags and doing a clean sweep of our classroom. They’re ready for the read aloud from our chapter book. They dread when the announcements start because it means that this is all I’ll be able to read that day. Educators wear many hats. We may be a parent, nurse, coach, cheerleader, traffic controller, protector, referee, etc. From day to day - even moment to moment - I have to do what is best for my students and their needs.
2.) What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
3.) Why did you become an educator?
I went to college at the University of South Carolina believing that Broadcast Journalism was going to be my course of study. My freshman year of college I was taking a journalism course that culminated in the amazing opportunity to participate in a Service Spring Break trip sponsored through USC’s TRiO Office, Study Abroad, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Before traveling to the rural area of Petersfield, Jamaica we discussed that we would serve in the schools there and make that the focus of the documentary that we would produce. My roommates and I were fortunate that our host mom was a teacher in one of the schools and was raising her two school aged grandchildren. This gave us additional insight to the educational system there. During that week, our group met the students, teachers, and administrators. We interviewed them and assisted with various projects around the schools. I was completely blown away by the vast differences between education there and the school life I had as a student in Goose Creek, South Carolina. The week we returned from our trip, I changed my major to Elementary Education. I wanted to be part of the solution in public education. I think I always knew that education would be my path in life, but this amazing opportunity was the confirmation that I needed.
4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?
I believe that in order to improve the teaching and learning of all students we must improve the practice of professional educators. Part of this improvement is the empowerment of teachers. I have spent the past two years as a Reading Coach with the mission of improving the teaching and learning of all students. During the 2018-2019 school year, I will be making the transition back to having a classroom of my own. While we absolutely need district and school level administrators, as well as instructional coaches, I believe in the power of leadership from the classroom and the incredible need for it. As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, I hope to grow these skills and build partnerships with leaders across the state, country, and the world as an advocate for teachers and students.
5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?
Being a Servant Leader Intern for the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School was instrumental in shaping my ideals about activism, literacy instruction, and culturally relevant pedagogy. Additionally, these professional readings have made an impact on my practice:
Jeff Anderson - Mechanically Inclined
George Curos - Innovator’s Mindset
Donalyn Miller - Reading in the Wild
Regie Routman - Read, Write, Lead
Diane Sweeney - Student Centered Coaching
6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.
During my first year of teaching, I lived in the neighborhood across the street from my school. As you can imagine, several students from not just my school, but my own classroom lived in this neighborhood. One afternoon as I pulled up to my house I saw a student sitting in my driveway. This was one of the most challenging students I had that year (and since). This student faced many challenges in his personal life and oftentimes took his anger out on me and his classmates. At this point in the year I had worked tirelessly to gain his trust and build a relationship with him, but I felt as if I had exhausted all possible options. I was shocked to see him sitting in my driveway that Friday afternoon. When I got out of my car I greeted him by name and asked if everything was alright. With a big smile on his face, his reply was, “Yeah! I just wanted to talk to you.” It was in that moment that I realized the power of consistency! This student knew that regardless of his behavior, I cared about him. We were both doing everything we could to have a positive relationship.
7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about education it would be the way that educators and public education are perceived by the public.
8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?
One year for Valentine’s Day a parent presented me with a card and a box of chocolate. Inside the card she wrote that this was the first year that her daughter did not cry going to school every morning. The mom thanked me for having such a positive impact on her. I had no idea about her dread of going to school each day because each morning this child entered my room beaming and dreaded leaving. The relationship I built with this student changed her outlook on what school could be. It is a constant reminder for me of the immense power and privilege we have as educators to be the one who could change everything for our students.