I am currently a kindergarten teacher in the room that I went to kindergarten in. Yes, I know that’s a little crazy, but do you want to know what’s even crazier? The teacher who teaches in the room next door to me went to kindergarten in the room she teaches kindergarten in too. No, I am not kidding. I know what you’re probably thinking. Wow, they’re total townies, and you’re right, we are. I am, however, totally fine with being a townie. The reason I am fine with, and actually love, teaching in the town I grew up in is because it offers a very unique teaching experience and allows me to connect with the community in a way I may not otherwise be able to.
I remember the day I interviewed for my teaching job like it was yesterday. I was 22 and had just completed my student teaching. I got to the school early and was greeted by the principal, who also happened to be my eighth grade Language Arts teacher. When I walked into the room where the interviews were being held the majority of the interview committee knew who I was, and I knew them. Now don’t get me wrong, that did not mean that they were going to treat me any differently than any other candidate, but it did mean that my nerves were a little calmer than they otherwise may have been which allowed me to put my best foot forward. In the end, I got the job. I was finally a real teacher. What I had worked so hard for had finally come to fruition. Fast forward 7 years and I am still working at the same school in the same position that I was hired for that very day.
In those 7 years a lot has happened. I have met many wonderful students, and families, and have worked with some of the best people I have ever met. There is a charm that comes with working in a small town that I love more than anything. In our school we work in very small grade level teams. Some years it is just myself and my wonderful teammate as a party of 2 (4 when you include our amazingly awesome and irreplaceable classroom paraprofessionals) and some years we are blessed enough to have a third teacher join our crazy kindergarten party. The same is true for most grade levels. There are either 2 or 3 teachers on each team. What this means is that we tend to all be very close. We are there for each other on the great days and the not so great days. We are especially there for each other on the tough days. Days when one child pees their pants, another kid is throwing up, and the phone rings a million times in an hour. It also means that we work very cohesively to ensure that each student is getting the best education possible.
When a child leaves our class it does not mean we are done teaching them. We work with teachers across grade levels to do what is in the best interest of the students. We have lunches with past students as rewards, give other teachers suggestions about what might work to help the child better grasp a concept, and allow past students to come into our rooms to show us work that they are proud of. I think this is a really unique quality to a small school. We truly get to watch our students grow, and really get to know each individual child.
Not only do we get to know each child extremely well, but we also get to know their families. We learn what makes them tick. We also get to form unique bonds with the parents. I consider many of the parents of my students to be my friends, and enjoy spending time with them outside of school as well. We have a great understanding that our friendship does not mean that I will treat their child any differently than the other children when they are in my classroom. I love being able to show up to my kids’ (yes, I call them my kids because they are more than just my students) practices for soccer, or t-ball, and getting to watch them play, but also getting to spend time chatting with parents, grandparents, and other family members that I may get to meet.
I wake up everyday happy to work in a small school with an amazing bunch of teachers, and families who mean more to me than they will ever know. I am someone who was blessed with the rare opportunity to work beside some of the teachers who I looked up to as a child. I am a townie, and I am proud of it.