Suzanne Billings

Augusta Circle Elementary

 

1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?

My role as an elementary school instructional coach is to encourage teachers and staff
to imagine the possibilities of what they can achieve with their students, create new
intentions and understanding of best instructional practices, and inspire a desire to
learn and lead collaboratively to positively challenge our students to be their best.
There is no typical day for me. Flexibility is the key to being an educator and that holds
true for me as an instructional coach. I may be co-teaching in the classroom, modeling
lessons, co-planning lessons, providing professional learning, or collaborating with
administrators. I may also be simply talking with students or teachers during lunch or in
the hallways, following up with students or colleagues to see how they are doing, or
being a listener for others.

2.)  What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?

 

Meaningful relationships foster a love of learning that strengthens the growth of
knowledge, mind, body, and spirit.

3.) Why did you become an educator?

 

I became an educator because I had many teachers and coaches who played an
important role in my own life, and I desire to be that influential person for others. I want
to support, guide, and inspire others to be their best. As an educator, I love being a part
of the passion, challenges, relationships, and safety that school provides.  

4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?

 

I hope to use my voice as an educational leader to pave the way for continued positive
changes that support learning opportunities for the whole child. I hope to be a part of
influential conversations with community and statewide leaders about significant
decisions that directly impact the well-being and education of our children as well as
educators.   

 

5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?

 

The most recent professional development I have experienced that has made a huge
difference in my career has been my participation as a member of the Greenville
Chamber Leadership Greenville Class 46. This year-long program allowed me to take an
intensive look into the issues affecting Greenville County, such as economic and
workforce development, community issues, healthcare, government and more. These
in-depth experiences challenged me to delve into the real issues that impact our
communities, which ultimately impact our students. I have also created lasting
relationships with other leaders in Greenville who share the same passion of making a
difference in the lives of others. Through my Leadership Greenville experiences, I am
more equipped and empowered to make a positive and meaningful impact in the
education and lives of our children.

 

6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.   

 

I knew that I was truly meant to be a teacher after my first year teaching in an inner city
middle school as a self-contained special education teacher. These students were
challenging and diverse, and as a brand new teacher, I struggled trying to figure out how
to reach each child. There were definitely moments of uncertainty that first year when I
questioned my career choice in education. However, at the end of the year, one of my
most challenging students, Jonathan, presented me with a homemade stand for my
sticky notes and told me he was impressed that I never gave up on him. I knew in that
moment that I was truly meant to be a teacher and to make a difference in the lives of
others. I still have that sticky note stand in my office and am reminded by each special
relationship I build with my students and colleagues that I will never give up.

 

7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?

 

One change I would make in education is to create a shift from an acute focus on
mandated testing to a primary focus on teaching the whole child with an emphasis on
developing a lifelong love of learning that extends beyond the walls of a classroom.  

 

8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?

 

My most rewarding experience as an educator has been my relationships with my
students. These relationships have been the most meaningful part of being a teacher,
not just during the year I was their teacher but also in the years afterwards. I am
overwhelmed each year as previous students reach out to me and let me know how
they are doing, what they are accomplishing, and/or thanking me for being their
teacher. I also cherish my relationships with my colleagues, who challenge me to continue to learn and grow and have become the best of friends to me. Relationships
are what matter most for me as an educator!

Eight Questions For SCASCD Emerging Leaders

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