Thank you, Mrs. Arnold

The department works to honor Tennessee teachers every day, but we are especially excited to celebrate educators during National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 5-9.

Kim Castlmen serves as the regional academic consultant for the department’s Northwest Center of Regional Excellence (CORE office). While the teacher in this story passed away many years ago, she continues to inspire and influence Kim in her life and career.

By Kim Castleman

Kim Castleman currently serves as a regional academic consultant for the department’s Northwest CORE office.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” At 8, a girl gets asked that question a lot. I clearly remember when the answer became…A TEACHER. In recalling that moment, I see Martin Elementary School’s Mrs. June Arnold’s face as she looks at me and smiles. In that smile came a calling that I would spend the rest of my life answering with much joy and passion.

When I was a child, all I understood was that I wanted to be just like her. I now know what I really wanted was to gift the students I would teach in the years to come with the same confidence and sense of ability she gave me that day. I have no idea what she was teaching me; I have long since forgotten. I just remember I could clearly read that she was proud of what I had tried and accomplished. So, it was on that day my wish to be a teacher became a part of my very being.

My excitement, desire, and inspiration to educate, to encourage and to instill the confidence that Mrs. Arnold shared with me so long ago has never dimmed in the 24 years I spent in the classroom.  It simply could never be separated from me.  Others have passed through my life influencing me with their ideas of education, still others have given me confidence to chart my own course in the profession of education, but none lit a fire that still burns fervently 43 years later like that one look from Mrs. June Arnold kindled on that day. I know that God put me on this earth to teach.  He put me in her room to share that calling.  I’ve told many parents of former students this truth: “Teaching your child was a fulfillment of a lifelong dream.” Often when I heard a child utter those five beautiful words, “Oh, I get it now!” I would send Mrs. Arnold  a quick thanks for the joy brought to my heart, and send a look that hopefully sparked a fire in my student too.  Oh, how I hope!