There is a lot of growing and maturing for students in the course of a full year of school. Big changes can take place and teachers get a front row seat to those changes.
Mary West loves seeing her students mature and be ready to tackle the next grade level and challenge. One of my favorite things Mary says in the interview is the quote below. It’s so true. There is a certain mix between serious and fun that combines to bring out the best in a classroom.
“I’m literally seeing my students grow into 5th graders. Their personalities are maturing, and they get my humor. Teaching is a fun ride if you have the right mentality.”
Treye Hanner: Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?
Mary West: I decided early on in high school that I wanted to teach. My grandmother was a teacher for 30 plus years and it was something I watched her do growing up and I liked the atmosphere of being in a school and working with children.
Treye Hanner: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Mary West: I believe hands down the best thing about teaching is the relationships you build along the way. I have students that have now graduated and went on to pursue careers or enlist in the military, it’s a fun to be a part, even if just a year, of their lives. It’s really special when you connect with a family and build friendships through the classroom that end up lasting for years, hopefully a lifetime. I love seeing students after they leave me and we both know we share a special bond!
Treye Hanner: Are there special moments where you say to yourself “this is why I teach?”
Mary West: Any good teacher lives for that “aha” moment. My favorite are not those academic moments, those are fun too, but those growing up maturity moments are the best. You see a child’s growth in a full year. First grade was the biggest change I’ve seen in a child go from naming letters and sounds to reading, they come in mere kindergartners and leave me ready for 2nd grade. This year, I’ve had the privilege to teach 4th grade reading. I’m literally seeing my students grow into 5th graders. Their personalities are maturing, and they get my humor. Teaching is a fun ride if you have the right mentality.
Treye Hanner: What challenges have you experienced while having to teach through the pandemic?
Mary West: The pandemic brought about a lot of challenges. When we first were told school would not return in March of 2020, I felt like I was cheated out of the end of the year with that class. When we did return to school, but I had to teach remotely it was so difficult trying to connect with students and build trust enough to begin teaching them to read. This year in fourth grade the biggest challenge was keeping up with who was out for quarantine and who would return. I felt like a never had a full class to teach to!
Treye Hanner: What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?
Mary West: We are humans, and we love your children! Things are tough, and sometimes I have to do what I’m told! We don’t write the laws and legislation, but we are bound to follow it!