Dicy McCullough: First-year teachers were ready

  • Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, February 20, 2012 12:21 a.m.

When the calendar turns to August, children, teachers and parents know all too well itís time for school again. Even now there are children moaning and groaning, while at the same time their parents are in the background trying to hide laughter. For many, itís a time of rejoicing, while for others itís a time of fear and trepidation. Itís a given, though, that first-year teachers are excited. Theyíre excited about not only having the chance to teach, but also about finally getting paid.
I still remember my first paycheck like it was yesterday. I was a kindergarten teacher at Cleveland Elementary School and couldnít get to the bank fast enough with my one-monthís salary of $600. At least now first-year teachers make a little more money each month.
Not only that, but first-year teachers have the advantage of technology not available even just a few years ago. While itís true modern technology has opened up many opportunities for learning, Dawn Fox, the media specialist at Knollwood, has some advice for first-year teachers in which they only need pencils and paper. Her advice is to start a journal. Dawn says, ìI wish I had kept a journal because many of the cute things children did or said over my 27-year career have long been forgotten.î
Last year at Hanford-Dole, I had the pleasure of getting to know two first-year teachers, Kati Earl Etters and Jessica Deal. When they brought their classes to music each week, they always had control of their classes like a seasoned teacher might, expecting and getting respect in return, with students ready to learn.
Kati says there was never a time in her life when she didnít want to teach. Both of her parents are teachers, so it must be in her blood. Katiís mom, Kim Etters, teaches English at Salisbury High, and her dad, Steve Etters, is a music professor at Catawba College. She can remember as a child playing school and lining up her dolls along the bed. Now that sheís had experience as a real teacher, she knows she made the right career choice.
Itís evident Jessica has the same enthusiasm and excitement as Kati, admitting she also lined up her dolls to play school. She gives credit to many of her teachers for inspiring her but is especially grateful for one middle school teacher, Marilyn Turner. Jessica says, ìMrs. Turner inspired me to expect more of myself than I ever thought possible. I hope I can do that for my students, as well.î
During her first year of teaching, what surprised Jessica most were all the extra duties and responsibilities required above and beyond the classroom, including staff meetings, planning, grading papers, workshops, online surveys, parent conferences and committee meetings. Even so, sheís ready, excited and more prepared than last year because she knows now what to expect.
When asked about Ms. Etters and Mrs. Deal, Hanford-Dole Principal Shanda McFarlin had only high praise for them. ìI was impressed last year with their professionalism and eagerness to learn and reflect on a daily basis,î she said. ìHanford-Dole is fortunate to have such great teachers in the classroom.î
We all know every child deserves a great teacher, but great teachers are only a part of the equation. As the saying goes, ìIt takes a village to raise a child.î I dare say, ìIt takes a village to educate a child.î We cannot as a society continue to place all of the burden for educating our children on the shoulders of teachers. If everyone involved in a childís life would ask what they could do to help with that childís education, I wonder ...

Dicy McCullough is a childrenís author who lives in Rowan County. Contact her at 704-278-4377 or her website, dicymcculloughbooks.com.

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