The Teacher Across the Hall: Recognizing Mentors
I once heard someone say that we (teachers) are only as good as those that teach across the hall from us. How true that statement has been for me. I have been blessed, throughout my teaching career, to be surrounded by professionals that not only set high standards for their students, but set high standards for themselves as well. This week I’d like to recognize two of the colleagues that have patiently and lovingly guided me on my journey in education.
I was the person that had no idea that I wanted to become a teacher. Sure, I came from a long line of educators and had always been surrounded by the “teaching type,” but it never occurred to me that teaching would be my path. My journey began 12 years ago at a school in Florida. I was excited and scared to death and it wasn’t long before I found comfort in sharing ideas and a passion for science with a veteran teacher named Glenn Rutland. Glenn is one of those teachers that delight in a challenge, both for her students and herself. At the time she was our in-house teacher of the gifted. She has a unique ability for seeing talents in others. Gifts that they may not realize exist. You see, she was the first person to suggest to me that I had a knack for working with gifted children, and I firmly believe that it is because of her encouragement that I went on to receive my Masters degree in gifted and talented education and have worked with gifted and talented children for the past 8 years. Her gift to me was that of enlightenment.
It didn’t take me long to realize that many of the teachers in that school were so willing to share advice, collaborate, and listen to the rookies. Kelly Allen was the next teacher that bestowed a powerful gift, the gift of “the challenge”. Through her example I was inspired to try new instruction methods. Teaching techniques that I was intimidated by, but by which she made look so easy. Innovative and creative, she is a leader for the school system and one of the most talented teachers I have ever had the privilege to work with. Kelly was my teaching partner for the last three years I taught at Holley-Navarre Intermediate, and became one of my closest friends. Even though we are separated by 500 miles today, she continues to collaborate with me weekly on lesson ideas and project plans.
There are countless others that I could recognize and thank, but this entry would become far too long. So, today as I looked around my school I realized that once again I am fortunate to be surrounded by professionals that share ideas and support me in my continued desire to become a better teacher. I am blessed and so thankful for the mentors that have molded me. For me the individuals that have had the greatest impact on me were not prolific authors or college professors, they were simply the teachers across the hall.