By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD
It’s that time of year . . . again. Teachers, parents, and students are getting ready to start a new school year. Caddo Parish gets an early start this week while Bossier Parish will get underway next week.
Today and tomorrow, teachers in Caddo Parish will undergo professional development and welcome elementary and middle school students on Wednesday. PD days for Caddo high school teachers is August 8-9 with students starting Wednesday, August 10.
All summer, we have been inundated with all the negatives regarding education these days – teacher shortages all around the country, violence taking place on school campuses, and underpaid teachers trying to make ends meet both at home and in the classroom.
Over the past couple of weeks, the Journal has focused on some of the important issues facing public school administrators by conducting Q&A’s with Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey and Caddo Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. T. Lamar Goree.
Today, we are highlighting teachers by getting a little insight into how they spent their summer vacation (traveling/working), what supplies they seem to always need during the school year (teachers always run out of something – I know because I was a teacher for 18 years), and their favorite classroom memories (there are many).
For this fun Q&A, we talked to an elementary, a middle, and a high school teacher in Caddo Parish: Brittany Nelson, who teaches fifth grade math at Eden Gardens, is starting her 12th year in education; LaDon Gaines, a seventh grade ELA teacher at Youree Drive Middle School, is entering her 28th year; and Stephanie Springer, a 10th grade English teacher at Byrd High School, is going into her 20th year.
Thank you, teachers, for taking part in the Q&A. More importantly, thank you for your dedication to the teaching profession.
SBJ: How did you spend your summer?
BN: My summer was spent soaking up the sunshine and enjoying as much family time as possible! I went on a moms’ beach trip with a group of 10 teachers, which was very relaxing. My family and I also went camping, out on the lake, to the pool, had play dates with friends, and ended our summer with a trip to the beach.
LG: Working! My summer job is at a law office. I enjoy the work and love to stay busy. Also, I need the extra income!
SS: I began the summer by taking Byrd students to Iceland for an education tour. It was a fabulous trip and a welcomed escape from this Louisiana heat! I’ve spent the rest of the summer spending time with family and friends. I even got to enjoy seeing my former student Jordan Davis in concert when he opened for Brooks and Dunn.
SBJ: What’s the one thing you always run out of during the school year?
BN: As a fifth-grade math teacher, I run out of dry erase markers every year. During my lessons each day, my students use dry erase boards and markers to practice problems with me.
LG: It’s a tie between Kleenex and pencils!
SS: I always run out of the basics – pens, paper, and TISSUE! There is always a mad dash to the store for more tissues and germ-x.
SBJ: What is your favorite teaching memory?
BN: During my 11 years teaching math, my goal has been to foster a love for learning. My favorite teaching memories are watching students grow from starting the year with no confidence and not fans of math to loving and excelling in math by the end of the year. Seeing their lightbulbs go off throughout the year and smiles come across their faces as they start to comprehend the material during my class keeps me motivated as a teacher!
LG: When I was teaching fifth grade and a student presented his DARE paper telling drugs: “Forget you, Forgot you, Ain’t ever thought about you!” . . . with great passion. But there are so many memories for many different reasons.
SS: This is my 20th year in the classroom so naming a single “favorite moment” feels impossible. Though it can be daunting, teaching is an amazing job. More than a job – it’s a calling. I just love seeing my kids (they are always “my” kids) learn and grow.
Contact Harriet at firstname.lastname@example.org