A post recently making the rounds online from the Alamo City Moms blog, titled Dear Teachers: You’re Not Fooling Me, describes a mother’s thankfulness for all teachers do to prepare for a new school year and help students. It’s a beautiful piece with which to begin the school year, and it started us thinking about all the quiet ways teachers assist their students. We decided to tap an alumna – Nan Bryant Ed.D., ’11, principal of John Kerr Elementary School in Winchester, Virginia for her unique perspective. Byrant earned her master’s degree in teaching reading in 1991 and her doctorate in organizational leadership in 2011 at Shenandoah University’s School of Education and Human Development. Let’s see what’s happening at her school.
I am walking through the hallways early on a Friday morning. Even though the tardy bell doesn’t ring for another 20 minutes, teachers are quietly getting started working with children in the elementary school where I serve as principal. Some of the students have papers on their desks, graded the night before, with a “give it another go,” message, and “I can help you this morning.” Others, ready for a steep challenge, are directed to computers to create worlds on MinecraftEdu. Still others are prompted to read or write while the rest of the class is gathering for the day. Teachers quietly use every moment available to help their students grow academically.
On another day, an English as a Language Learner teacher is subtly reviewing vocabulary while making students giggle. “Your name starts with an ‘a,” she teases. “It must be ‘Alligator.'” “Yours starts with a ‘z.’ Well then your name must be ‘Zebra.'” A few classrooms over, a third grade teacher exhorts, “Test makers are EVIL. They try to TRICK you any way they can. But we won’t let them! We will figure out their tricks and prevail!” A music teacher down the hall has students learn rhythm, music history, and a game from colonial days all at once. Teachers quietly use every moment available to make learning fun as well as meaningful.
Since last year, our school counselor has worked with a local church, giving hours beyond her regular assignments, to provide bags on Fridays with two breakfast foods, two lunch items, and two snacks to tide students over the weekend whose families count on school meals during the week to make sure their children don’t go hungry. Meanwhile, each fall, another staff member works with local agencies to make sure all students have warm coats, hats, and gloves for the winter. Teachers quietly collaborate with community resources to meet students’ basic needs so that they can focus on learning when they are in school.
Teachers work extremely hard during the school day meeting the differing needs of our diverse student body. Yet, when the call comes out to provide after-school programming, several quietly step up to fill teaching and enrichment roles. Our teacher-librarian has spent many hours outside of the work day learning MinecraftEdu, the educational version of the wildly popular software, Minecraft, to motivate and extend learning both during and after the regular school day. A kindergarten teacher steps up time after time to work with older students–because she taught fourth grade one year and knows the needs–in our after-school remediation programs. Our English as a Second Language teachers and Spanish-speaking family liaison offer innovative programming for Spanish-speaking parents of pre-school aged children to increase the chances of a running start when those students reach kindergarten. Educators quietly innovate and work beyond their regular school day to support pursuit of the American dream of education as a means for upward mobility.
Quietly, each day, teachers and staff at my school and those throughout Winchester and beyond are heroes, creating, planning, and implementing innovative programs to help all children meet with success in school–and beyond.
Shenandoah’s School of Education and Human Development offers a wide variety of educational opportunities for current educators and people interested in entering the field.
Learn more at su.edu. Make a difference.