Leaphart Elementary School STEAM Magnet
1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?
One of the reasons I enjoy being an educator is because no one day is like another day. Experienced teachers know that even with effective planning, you always have to have a plan B, C, and even a plan D. Even thinking back to teaching virtually for the past few months, that was never in the plan, but one thing about most educators we learn how to adjust and monitor. So I will tell you what a typical day would like before the pandemic began. I always started the day by greeting each and every one of my students. We created a handshake during a morning meeting and would add on to it through the course of the school year. Greeting students is important because it’s what starts the day and plans a major part in how the school day will go. Once the students enter class we have a routine of where they would eat breakfast, watch the morning news show, and begin their morning work. Once the new show is over and we go over our morning work, we always have a morning meeting. Similarly to the morning greeting, the morning meeting sets the tone for the remainder of the day. The morning meeting is also important because it builds classroom community and allows me here about the students weekend or other events that may have an effect on their well-being or classroom behavior.
After the morning meeting, we officially begin our day with our ELA block. I inform the students what we will be working on this week and send them off to begin work in their center. I have created centers, which work really well in my classroom. I have the ability to work with several groups and hone in on the needs of my students. The students are able to work in a writing center, an independent reading center, the teacher center and a technology center. Following the ELA block we go into Social Studies. I enjoy Social Studies because I have begun teaching it as more of an inquiry based and the students enjoy solving problems while being in charge of their own learning. Once the Social Studies block is over I switch and get my other students. I take these students to recess, to lunch, and then back to class where we begin my ELA block.
As an educator, I am able to challenge my students daily. I allow the students to be in control of their own learning and I act as a facilitator.
2.) What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?
My philosophy of education is that all children are unique in their own special way and the teacher must create a learning environment where all students are challenged to be independent thinkers, creative thinkers, and problem solvers.
3.) Why did you become an educator?
Honestly, growing up I always wanted to become an anesthesiologist, or the doctor that comes in before people have surgery to give them medicine. In fact, I even started out my college career majoring in Biology, however that changed really quick when I realized that pre-med Biology was not the same as the biology I took in high school. I eventually earned a BA in History and a BA in African American Studies. Throughout college I always volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club and other organizations around the Columbia and Orangeburg area. Through those experiences I realized that education was my calling and went back to school to earn my MAT in Elementary Education. That was probably one of the best decisions I made.
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 my community and beyond by staying abreast on the current trends in the educational system and continue to be an advocate for children throughout the state of South Carolina. I plan to have open and honest conversations with coworkers and other people in the community about the importance of public education and different ways that we can help improve the public school system in South Carolina.
5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?
As an educator, I understand and appreciate professional development that helps enhance my craft. The types of professional development that have made a difference in my career would have to be Kagan Cooperative Learning, Google Tech Professional Development, professional developments that encourages the success of new teacher entering the field-so for me it was the first year teacher development offered through my school district, professional development the promotes growth mindset within my students, and any other professional development that helps promotes achievement for my students in and out of the classroom.
6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.
There were several pivotal moments that made me realize that I made the correct career choice in education. The greatest moments have to be when you realize how big of a difference you made in a child’s life. When I can teach my students the power of “yet” and when I am able to ignite curiosity and growth in my students has to be the most rewarding moment of all.
7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?
There are many changes that I would like to make in the education system. However, if I could make one major change in education it would have to be increasing all teacher's annual salaries. Teachers do so much more than teach during the course of a school year. Teacher’s act as lawyers, doctors, counselors, referees, and any other professional that you can think of when it deals with children. The sad reality is that most educators must work a part time job in order to make ends meet month to month. I believe that if educator’s were compensated for their time and effort the turn over rate in education would not be so high and you will begin to have teachers retire from their craft instead of transitioning into a different career field all together.
8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?
My most rewarding experience as an educator has to be seeing students grow over the course of the school year to individuals who are more confident, know their self-worth, and to individuals who are willing to try new things. As an educator, we know that the curriculum is important but what’s even more important is teaching your students life skills that will travel with them their entire lives.