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Erika Wyatt

Devon Forest Elementary School


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

My role as an elementary assistant principal looks very different every single day. Working in a school with  approximately 1,000 students and 100 staff members definitely keeps me on my toes. I begin each morning greeting students with a handshake, big hug, fist bump, or high five as they unload from their buses. Then I am off to the cafeteria to supervise students while they eat their breakfast. After students are dismissed, I walk the entire premise of the building to wish our staff members a good morning and make sure students make it to class safely. Greeting students and staff members each morning is one of my favorite parts of my job because it sets the tone for the day. After my morning routine, I check my email for any important messages that need immediate attention. Throughout the day, my time is spent dealing with behavior  and discipline problems, making parent phone calls, meeting with teachers to provide support, conducting classroom observations and walkthroughs, attending IEP & data team meetings, supervising students and personnel, responding to calls on for assistance, and handling any unexpected situation that comes my way. There is never a dull moment, whether I am mentoring new teachers, sitting in on a DSS visit, attending school events, or celebrating students after they received a positive referral. I end each afternoon directing parents at the car loop, opening car doors while telling parents and students to have a great day, and ensuring students make it home safely. Every day I have to be able to juggle multiple tasks, make important decisions, and create magical moments for my students and staff. I love everything about my job, especially that everyday is an exciting new adventure!

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


“Every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” - Rita Pierson

3.) Why did you become an educator?


I chose to become an educator because of my parents’ positive attitude towards education, the huge impact my teachers have had on my life, and my passion to make a difference in the lives of children. 

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


As an SCASCD Emerging Leader,  I hope to have a greater effect on education in our community and beyond by being an advocate and voice for our schools, students, and profession. I plan to connect, collaborate, and share resources and ideas with other educators around the state to improve the education of the whole child.  I believe that together we can make a difference! I will use my positive energy and commitment to making quality education a top priority. I will campaign for children to be provided with a safe and supportive learning environment where they feel comfortable taking risks. I will celebrate our children's  successes, broadcast our school’s accomplishments, embrace change, and remain committed to making education the best it can be. I look forward to this opportunity to work with SCASCD to help build a legacy for the future in South Carolina one child at a time.

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

I am a lifelong learner who constantly pushes myself to learn new things. Becoming part of a Professional Learning Network has been the most profound professional development in my career. I love to collaborate with educators around the world through Twitter, Google Hangouts, and Facebook in order to learn, grow, and lead. Additionally, I enjoy reading professional literature, listening to educational  podcasts, attending state and national conferences, and participating in Edcamps and other PD sessions in my district. I am always looking for new professional development opportunities, so that I can equip teachers with the necessary tools to be successful and empower them to do what is best for children.

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


There have been many moments in my life that have led me to realize that my career choice in education was the correct one.  My favorite moments have been when previous students visit and share their fond memories of my class. It is students like Zachary, who I did not realize I influenced in such an unbelievable way, that remind me why I went into education. A few years ago, Zachary visited me after his dad’s passing and said, “… I AM somebody and I WILL BE somebody important because of you. I sometimes watch the slideshow video you gave me and cry happy tears because those memories were the best times of my life!” Although the “happy memories” that Zachary shared with me may not be clear in my mind anymore, the positive impact I have had on my students is clear to me; that is priceless! It is these special moments that make me proud to be a educator and truly validate that I am in the right profession.

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


If I could make one major change in education, it would be to expand access to high quality early childhood education by offering all four-year-old children a free education, regardless of their family circumstances or backgrounds. High quality early childhood education gives young children skills necessary to succeed in the real world.

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


My most rewarding experience as an educator has been helping students and teachers find their joy in learning. It is the warmth of their smiles as they enter the building ready to begin a new day, the twinkle in their eyes as they finally step outside the box to try something new, and the “Ah-Ha” moments when the light bulb “turns on” for the first time are all things that keep me passionate about being an educator. It is watching teachers experience success because of my guidance and support and having former students come back years later to share the positive impact I have had on their lives that are the most rewarding.  As an Assistant Principal, I continue to celebrate the victories of my students and teachers each day, no matter how big or small, so they feel valued and important.

Eight Questions For SCASCD Emerging Leaders

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