My name is Martin West and this is my 21st year teaching. I started my teaching career in 1998 at Northside Elementary in Cedartown and enjoyed 10 years there before coming to Westside in the fall of 2008. I received my Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree, and Educational Specialist Degree in Middle Grades Education with a primary concentration in Mathematics from the University of West Georgia.
I have been married to Kim Hackney West for 14 years. Kim taught in Polk School District for 29 years but is currently retired after being diagnosed with pancreatitis in September of 2014. We have a big family! My stepson Josh Kirkpatrick is married to Lacey and they have a beautiful 6-year-old boy, Koby. He is in 1st Grade at Westside this year. Kim and I have adopted three amazing children who keep us feeling young and on our toes! Betenia Faith turned 13 in February and is an 8th grader at Cedartown Middle. Simon will be 12 in August and is in the Special Needs program at Westside. Our youngest son Oliver, or "Ollie," is in 4th Grade at Westside and he will turn 10 in September. A 4 pound 7-year-old Yorkie named Fancy rounds out our crew. We are members of the First Baptist Church in Cedartown where Kim and I enjoy singing in the Sanctuary Choir and Adult Ensemble. Betenia Faith, Simon, and Ollie are active there in Music, Missions, and the Gospel Project for Kids. I also serve there as the Director of Children's Ministry.
During my time at both Northside and Westside I have been fortunate enough to sponsor Student Council. This is always an accomplished group of young people to work with and I always look forward to hearing their ideas. In addition to sponsoring several dances at Westside the group organizes and presents Westside Idol, an annual singing competition that always showcases the amazing talent of our school. I look forward to working with this membership again in the 2018-2019 school year.
I feel that teaching is a privilege, and I think that too many people do not take the task seriously enough. When I became an educator, it was never a second choice because what I really wanted did not pan out. Conversely, education was the path I knew would develop my full potential. As a teacher, I am given the opportunity every day to shape young people’s lives, and this power is something I do not take lightly. I believe that every student can learn, and it is my desire to find the best way for each of my students to succeed. I do not feel you can teach to the middle and be successful. While one-on-one time is rare, it is not impossible to modify teaching to fit the needs of individual learning styles.
I believe my willingness to do things differently makes me an outstanding teacher. My students are never in straight rows, and my classroom is usually filled with a lot of talking and music. Cooperative learning is a method of teaching that I feel is very effective, and it gives students the opportunity to work together and share ideas. While not all subjects and lessons can benefit from this teaching tool, it has motivated my students to learn and use their cognitive powers. As someone with a great appreciation for music, I have integrated music in my classroom to create a more relaxed, learner-friendly atmosphere. Whether popular, country, classical, or jazz, I have found that playing music in the classroom makes students more responsive, and the overall environment is one of comfort and acceptance. When students are taking a math test, Jennifer Lopez may be supplying the background music. If students are struggling to remember a certain formula, I may incorporate it into a popular song so students can increase their understanding. Students know that to have the music playing, I expect them to control their noise level and remain on-task. It is a motivator to them, and the auditory stimulation it provides is extraordinary. It is important to create a balance when using music since some students require a quieter environment to learn in. Overall, students appreciate this strategy because it is one they have never experienced before. In an age when a lot of popular music is inappropriate, it is important to use discretion and screen music played in the classroom. Luckily, my students and I have similar musical tastes.
No career has the rewards that can be garnered from teaching. While these rewards may not be financial or very newsworthy, they separate an educator from the typical worker. No greater sense of accomplishment can be achieved than when a student masters something they did not know when they walked in your classroom. It may take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to teach one. The things students learn from me are building blocks they will use in middle and high school. Outstanding students make me an outstanding teacher, and I look forward to teaching for many more years to come!