By Elisabeth Bellah and Lauren Blair, sisters and educators in East Tennessee
We were both educated in the Maryville City School System, where our mother was an elementary school teacher for over 30 years. Throughout the years, we observed her strong dedication and witnessed the immense impact she had on the lives of her students. She taught us the importance of building relationships and creating a positive classroom environment that fosters growth, development, and success. Understanding the impact teachers have in shaping the lives of students led us both into education. Over 20 years ago, we began our teaching careers in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eventually, we both made our way back to East Tennessee and began teaching first grade at Sam Houston Elementary (Elisabeth Bellah) and Glenwood Elementary (Lauren Blair).
Sharing the same career path and having the continued opportunity to collaborate with each other has proven beyond rewarding both personally and professionally. It is inspiring to spend time in each other’s classroom and observe, not only our students’ reactions to our family resemblance, but the many similarities in our teaching philosophies. We share the belief in cultivating a learning environment that creates a confident, independent learner, willing to work harder to achieve a goal. We understand that the key to the success of students is exposing them to higher standards and helping them set their own attainable goals.
We have found that if taught and supported well, students, even struggling students, will rise to higher standards and take ownership of their own learning. Our goal is to encourage and create an opportunity for deeper learning that develops critical thinkers, problem solvers, and lifelong learners. The most rewarding part of our job is unlocking a student’s ability to reach their full potential. As educators, we are not only preparing students for the next level of their education, more importantly, we are preparing students for a successful, fulfilling future.