New teachers share their thoughts as beginning of school nears

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — In a sense, China Grove native Tammy Tutterow is coming home.
Sure, she never left the area. But when she graduated from South Rowan High School in 1992 she wasn’t exactly expecting to come back, to the school that is.
But this fall, Tutterow will start her teaching career by launching to school’s first marketing program.
“Unlike most beginning teachers, I’m 37 years old,” she said. “I’ve got a little bit of life and work experience, and I have children so I think those kinds of things will help me here in the classroom.”
Tutterow had been working as a kitchen and bathroom designer when the economy took a hit and construction jobs became scarce. After working in Food Lion’s corporate offices for 15 years, Tutterow knew she wanted to branch out to something different.
“I kind of had to evaluate things and I was just drawn to teaching,” she said. “I knew it was my calling.”
Tutterow went back to Catawba College to earn her teaching certificate and was thrilled when she was offered a job at South Rowan.
“Getting a job here I already feel that Raider pride,” she said. “I see these kids and I know a lot of their parents. I’m really deeply embedded into the community so it’s just fabulous to be able to work here.”
Mt. Ulla native Matt Moore will begin his teaching career at Koontz Elementary School.
Moore graduated from West Rowan High in 2001. After working for his uncle’s plumbing business for several years, he decided it was time to head back to school.
He completed his bachelor’s degree at Catawba College in May and landed a job as a fourth-grade teacher at Koontz Elementary.
Moore said he’s happy to be able to stay in the area and work in the same district as his wife, Carly Moore, a math teacher at Carson High School.
“I’m really happy to have a job in the area because I had hoped to stay here,” he said.
Fourth-grade teacher Rachel Graham, a Rowan County native, is also gearing up for her first day at Hurley Elementary School.
Graham graduated from West Rowan High School in 2007 and completed her bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State in May.
She was surprised when she found a job in her home county just two months after earning her degree.
“I was working at Belk’s in Mooresville and looking for jobs in Rowan County, Mooresville and Cabarrus County,” she said. “Luckily, things just kind of fell into place here.
“I’m very pleased because this is such a great school.”
A Post reporter interviewed the three first-year teachers as they were preparing for their first day of class. Read the interviews here and check back later this year to find out how things are going for the newcomers.
Why did you decide to go into teaching?
Tutterow: “I had to find another job and I just knew that I wanted to teach. I enjoy kids and having my own, I really wanted to be on the same schedule.”
Matt Moore: “It was something I’ve always wanted to do for obvious reasons like watching the kids grow. These children are our future leaders so I think it’s important that we have a vested interest that they succeed and be the best they can be. I figure what better way to help then to get in there and work with them.
Graham: “My fourth grade teacher was awesome and after that year I told myself I wanted to be a teacher. When I got to college there was not question about it , there was no doubt in my mind that that’s what i wanted to do.”
How would you describe your teaching style?
Moore: “I’m a very laid back teacher. I do a lot of hands-on activities. I also really enjoy classroom discussions. I like to let the kids talk and share, that’s a really good way to get to know them, their likes and dislikes. It’s also a way to assess and let them give you feedback on what they’ve learned and questions or concerns that they might have.”
Graham: I’m very interactive, that way kids are more engaged and excited. One big things that I learned at school was that if kids aren’t excited about learning they’re not going to be excited to be here. Technology is a really big part of my teaching because I feel like you can associate any curriculum with technology.
Tutterow: I think being a parent I understand the importance of discipline and who is in control of the classroom. But having said that … we’re going to make some noise we’re going to have some fun in here. I want them to have real world experiences. I want to get them outside of these four walls. I’m not the lecture type I want independent workers, I want them to be creative.
What is your biggest fear as you begin your first year teaching?
Graham: The biggest thing for me is the curriculum along with the tests. The end-of-grade tests are really important. I just hope that I can help prepare the kids for end of grade tests by making learning fun for them. Testing makes me nervous, but I’m hoping for a positive outcome.”
Tutterow: “I think my biggest fear is that I stay ahead of these kids, that I stay prepared for the lessons to come, to have foresight. I don’t want to get caught unprepared for my students.”
Moore: “It’s what you see right here, getting my room ready. I want everything to be perfect, I feel like I’ve changed things about a hundred times in here. As far as the kids coming in, I’m ready, I’m not worried about that at all.”
What can students expect on the first day of school?
Tutterow: “We are not going to dive into our curriculum hot and heavy. We are going to get to know each other and start to look at our personalities and how we are similar and different to each other. We’ll segway into the curriculum after the dust settles from class changes.”
Moore: “We’re basically going to get to know each other. We’re going to do some team building activities and a lot of group work. It’s also going to be procedures, procedures, procedures. I want them to know this is how we line up, this is how we go to the cafeteria, this is how we go to the playground. Instilling those things early is very important.
Graham: It’s going to be a lot of me meeting them and them getting know me. We’ll start digging down into the textbooks and seeing what we can pull out, seeing what they are interested in. They’ll also be getting to know the classroom and the procedures.”
What do you hope students take away from your class?
Moore: “That they can do whatever they put their mind to, plain and simple in a nutshell. Even if they struggle with things I just want them to do it to the best of their ability.”
Graham: “I hope they take away a passion for learning and reading. I hope the kids in my class enjoy learning and enjoy being here every day. I just hope that they can gain knowledge that they didn’t think they could before.”
Tutterow: “I hope they know a little more about themselves and they’ve discovered maybe an area that they are interested in. I hope to set them on the path of looking into the future.”