We asked our Teacher Advisory Council members to honor a fellow educator who inspires them. Here’s what they had to say about their colleagues.
My colleague, Mrs. Ellaina Taylor, inspires me every day to be the best educator that I can be for my students. Not only has she inspired me to continuously improve my teaching practices, but she has also inspired me to really take time to care for my students. She leads by example by always seeking to learn and adopt new ideas, and by taking time to ask how we (her colleagues) are doing and if she can help in anyway. This type of attitude is contagious and spreads to both students and teachers on a daily basis. So thanks Mrs. Taylor, for making the world a better place.
Carrie Bailey teaches AP Human Geography and U.S. History across the hall from me at Pigeon Forge High School. Although Carrie was a student in one of the first classes I taught at Pigeon Forge, today she is both a colleague and a friend. She inspires me daily with her enthusiasm to meet the needs of her students, her superb organizational skills, and her willingness to share resources with her peers. I am so happy that Carrie is part of our PFHS family!
Teresa Walker, a kindergarten assistant at our school, is the epitome of grace under fire. She is always smiling, consistently happy, and unfailingly positive, despite fighting a battle with breast cancer this school year. In the fall she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of the disease, and she has handled it in what I have come to learn is true Teresa style: beautiful, courageous, and bold. And despite it all, I see her in the classroom working patiently with little learners who need extra support or in the afternoons after she’s walked students to the car line, always ready with a hug and a smile and a sweet word. I have learned from her example of focusing on what’s truly important, finding the beauty in every day, and being present in the moment. It’s been a blessing to teach her granddaughter this year, but an even greater blessing to watch someone live life the way it should be lived.
Carol Ann Jent, assistant principal at Riverside elementary, is an amazing educator with a heart for students. She taught pre-K for nineteen years, before becoming an administrator. This is her fifth year as an assistant principal. She knows every student in her building by name, and she builds relationships with their families. She celebrates the students’ strengths and encourages them to reach their goals. The students love Mrs. Jent! She has high expectations for students and teachers. While teaching pre-K, she fought cancer, and she won! She is celebrating nine years as a SURVIVOR. She is a great inspiration and hero to me.
There are so many teachers that I’ve worked with who have inspired me, but I have to go back to the beginning of my teaching career and recognize Kristy Ford. Kristy stopped by my classroom the week before in-service my first year of teaching. We spent 30 minutes talking about all things teaching. She became my informal mentor that first year and she shared everything with me! No matter the challenge I faced, she was there at every twist and turn. Kristy inspired me to pay it forward to others new to the profession. She has been my yardstick ever since, and I’m so grateful for her selfless leadership to me and countless others!
As a math-brained teacher of upper elementary students for the past two decades, I have not had the same experiences with literacy as teachers in the primary grades. My exposure has been limited—you know we tend to live in our own little “bubbles” with minimal time to even go to the restroom, not to mention learning about other grade bands and their content areas!
Well, this year I have a new position in my district which has enabled me to attend numerous sessions on literacy, including a recent Southwest CORE Early Literacy session. I wanted to take just a moment to tell all of my K-2 literacy colleagues how much I appreciate you and all that you do for our students. You make a tremendous difference for children, not only for preparation for upper grades but for LIFE! Literacy has a significant influence, and YOU teach them how to READ and comprehend. That is truly amazing and your passion is inspiring. Please know that your work matters and you are appreciated!