I have been sharing my love for learning for over 30 years. This year I will be Directed Studies teacher. What an awesome opportunity to work with all grade levels at Cherokee! Directed Studies is designed to provide opportunities for students to become successful learners! I graduated from Jacksonville State with a BS in Special Education, a Masters Degree in Elementary Education, and finally an Educational Specialist Degree. I taught 18 years at Piedmont Elementary and 10 years at Spring Garden School. I also taught Literacy classes and worked with intern teachers at Jacksonville State University. I have taught 2nd grade at Cherokee for the past 9 years. I have had the pleasure of watching many, many students grow up to become successful adults- including doctors, lawyers and teachers. There are several teachers in Polk County that I taught in second grade, including Ms. Jessica Gowens and Mrs. Meagan Morris who both teach at Cherokee.
My husband and I have one daughter, Lauren. She is a PA at Rome Internal Medicine and is married to Levi Hatcher, who teaches math and coaches at Trion High School. We have been blessed with a sweet two year old grandson, Hudson. I enjoy family time, reading, and Alabama football.
Philosphy of Education
My philosophy of teaching has changed over my career. As a young teacher, my focus was teaching the curriculum. I believed that it was my job to cover a certain amount of material and my students would be ready for the next grade. In reality, I was preparing them to learn information for a test. I worked hard. I did my best. I thought I was doing a great job. Then more emphasis was placed on standardized testing, inclusion, test taking skills, small group instruction, character education, technology, etc. Every year presented new challenges and responsibilities as I was now preparing students to compete in a global job market, become technologically literate, and survive the information explosion. Could I keep up with these demanding challenges? Was it possible? That is when I became a real teacher with real focus and a new philosophy of teaching. Teach the child. As simple as giving the child a strong foundation, tools they need to succeed, and a dream.
I believe that guiding a child into literacy is the most important part of the educational process. Becoming literate is not an easy process and there are no magic wands to wave. I choose carefully or create effective resources and methods that best meet the individual needs of the students while keeping in mind that there are no quick fixes. No program, plans, or resources will promote learning if the ground work has not been put in place on which to build future learning. This foundation should include motivating the student…
. . . to be confident. Being a risk taker and doing more than just enough to get by.
. . . to have perseverance. Quitting is not an option. You finish what you start.
. . . to value teamwork. We all work together to meet common goals.
. . . and to think outside the box. Individuality and creativity is celebrated
I believe that most failures we encounter in our classroom are a result of students being overwhelmed and developing feelings of hopelessness. Children are aware when they have academic difficulties. They began to develop coping skills which hide their learning issues. Sometimes coping skills show up as behavior problems. How I react as a teacher can have lifelong implications for the students. The good news is that children are still very pliable. It is never too late to direct a student down a different path. We must teach with hope and encouragement.
I feel that a successful learning atmosphere is based on respect. I must demonstrate respect in my classroom. I must demonstrate tolerance and respect for individuality. The children must respect me as a teacher.
Assessments are necessary to determine a child’s strengths and weaknesses. Assessments should be used to drive instruction and encourage children, not merely to document scores for accountability purposes. The results are used to develop strategies that identity learning difficulties and how to make appropriate interventions. I must meet the needs of all children.
I realize that parental support is essential for the success of a child. Parents want their children to succeed. My door must be open for parents to be involved in their child’s success. It is my job as a teacher to make parents feel like an important part of the equation. Technology has made it much easier for parents to be able to stay informed. Personal phone calls, e-mails, and text messages are important for building professional relationships with the parents. I send home test papers and behavior folders home each week. It has been my experience that parents want to see an example of their child’s work, not just a test score.
We need to teach them to be thinkers and try to promote, as my dad would say, common sense. Students must be challenged to go beyond rote memorization and be able to apply their knowledge to different situations. If the students are thinking, comprehending, and trying to solve problems, then they are learning and growing. There is a time to challenge and a time to accept their efforts. Children, especially young children, want to please other. I think it is a mistake to expect too much, too soon. Sometimes academic problems are a result of a lack maturity and not a lack of ability We need to celebrate progress toward students reaching their full potential.