T is for teacher story 14: the enthusiasm of second graders

Today, I am sharing a teacher story.
Frances Reid teaches at Huth Road Elementary School. In this conversation, we
talk about learning and about what it’s like to be a teacher. She talks about
the beauty of connecting with young students, who are enthusiastic to learn new
things.
First of all, you teach at Huth Road
School, and you teach second grade?
Yes.
Tell me what motivated you to be a
teacher. Did you always want to be a teacher or did you have other career
dreams?
I think that I
wanted to be a lot of things when I was a kid. I wanted to be a writer, and I
still do.  But I think that it was my
fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Burton, who really inspired me to want to be a
teacher. She made learning fun. She had fun, cool ways to remember things, and
I wanted to pass that on to some kids of my own.
Could you give examples of the fun ways
to remember things?
We were learning
about the explorers so she told us that Balboa took a bubble bath in the
Pacific Ocean. And Ponce de Leon. We pictured him jumping on a lion because his
name was Leon, but it was really an alligator. And we remember that he
discovered Florida.
And Ponce sounds like pounce.
And to remember
the periodic table of elements, AU can mean them gold chains. And, when you get
older, your hair turns silver, and it spells AGE for age, but it is AG. Some mnemonic
devices.
It’s like music, where I remember FACE
for the treble clef. That’s a good way to learn.
Every Good Boy Does
Fine.
So you decided to be a teacher. Was it after
fifth grade?
It was that
year. My teacher did a writers’ workshop back when it was brand new. We were a
pilot class. So a lot of reading and a lot of writing.
That sounds like a lot of fun.
Mmm-hmm.
So, where did you go to college?
I went to Buff
State for one year. Then I moved out to Michigan, and I went to Oakland
University, but I knew that I was coming back here. I arranged to do my student
teaching through Buff State. I ended up student teaching at Huth Road.
When did you student teach?
It was the
spring of 2001. I student taught in fifth grade. Then I started subbing after
graduation in May. I finished out the year subbing here in Grand Island.
Were you living in Grand Island at the
time?
I was living in
West Seneca at the time. I live in Lancaster now.
So tell me about
subbing here. Was it only at this school or all over the district?
I subbed at
Sidway once, but they needed me here because Betty King back then had some heart
problems or surgery and they needed me to fill in for the last two week.
So did you work in any other district
before you came here?
No, I student
taught here and then I subbed here. Peggy Koppmann (the former principal) got
to know me. She gave me a call over the summer when they were looking for
someone to fill in for Betty King. This was a full year so I had my first year
of teaching as a long-term sub. That was third grade.
How did you like teaching third grade?
I loved it. They
love learning. They’re not old enough to be wise guys. They are still young and
cute, and they love learning.
When did you get placed here on a
permanent basis?
For the
following year, they had opened up a position. I had to go through the
interview process. By that time, it was the spring of 2002 that I went through
that whole process, and I got hired.
Were you teaching third grade or were you
hired for a different grade?
Yes, I was
placed in third grade. I continued teaching third grade, and I taught third
grade for ten years.
How long have you been teaching second
grade?
This is my
seventh year now. I went from ten years of third to seven years of second.
Tell me what you like about second grade.
I think that it’s
just their love of learning. They love you as a teacher. They love to be here,
and they love school. They love learning. They love reading stories. I think
that it’s really the kids. They make it the great job that it is.
Can you give me an example of a positive
experience that you’ve had lately? Something that you’ve done with the kids
that they’ve really enjoyed?
We did a lesson
on fact and opinion. It was a detective lesson. They all got a case file in
their little groups and they had to read the facts and the opinions of the
witnesses. They had to sort through the facts. They had to differentiate
between fact and opinion and figure out who committed the crime. They loved it
so much that they asked can we do more? When you see the kids involved and
asking for more, you know that you have a good lesson plan.
Do you have any other roles that you play
at school?
I’m the grade
level chair so I participate in a lot of meetings.
Tell me what it’s like to be a grade
level chair.
You have a
little extra responsibility and attend extra meetings in the building with the
principal and also in the district office, where we assemble with all of the
grade level chairs throughout the district. We work on the shared decision making
things. Report back to your grade level; report to the higher ups. So you do a
little more planning with things such as field trips.  I like it because I know what’s going on.
Have the kids had any interesting field
trips lately?
We went to the
Theater of Youth in March to see June B. Jones is not a crook performed on
stage so they got to see a book brought to life. They enjoyed that.
Tell me a little about that.
We got to tie in
some other things, too, because we’ve been learning about communities: rural,
urban, and suburban. So we talked about how we were driving into an urban
community, into Buffalo. We got to dress up and go to the theater so we talked
about the proper way. Not all of them had been exposed to the theater. Some of
them had been there before but, for others, it was their first time. They got
to see it and it was great. Afterwards, after the performance, the actors sat
on the stage and were themselves, instead of acting in character, and they
answered questions on how to put on the production. The kids got to see that
there was a back stage crew and everything that goes into something like that.
That sounds really cool.
When you’re not here teaching, what are
some of the things that you like to do best?
I’ve really been
interested in ancestry research lately. I did one of those 23 and me tests
lately, where it tells you where your ancestors came from.
You’re all human? I’ve been wondering
about mine.
Well, they put
Neanderthal in there, which is part human. Yes, they’re all human. I renewed my
Ancestry.com account so I could work on my trees. I’ve been doing that in my
spare time a little bit.
And are you married?
Yes.
And what’s your
husband’s name?
Jacob. We were
just married in June.
Do you have kids?
I do. I have a
daughter. Her name is Brooke. She is thirteen years old. I have two step
children. I have Sebastian, who is fifteen, and Carly, who is thirteen.
So tell me what it’s like to be the
parent of teenagers.
You need a lot
of patience. You need a lot of firm discipline. You need to be up to date with
technology because they are on their phones all of the time. You need to keep
up with every new app. Even the language. They say things and you’re thinking, “What
is that?”  Sebastian says, “I’m the GOAT!”
Oh. Greatest of All Time.
I didn’t know
that.  How can you keep up with this
stuff.
Yes, because usually the goat was the
idiot.
In Minecraft,
they put those sheep in.
Is there anything that you would like to
add that I didn’t ask?
I think that
Huth Road is a wonderful school. It’s a great place to work. The faculty is
great. The parents are great. I really enjoy it. I feel that I made the right
career choice
So if you had to do it over again, you
would do the same thing
.
Absolutely.

2 thoughts on “T is for teacher story 14: the enthusiasm of second graders”

  1. Neat! I remember my first grade teacher, who I loved. I can easily see why her kids would love her, too. I am a teacher, too, but I only have one student. 😉

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