God is always right. Lauren felt God’s calling to teach and she listened. We are all fortunate to have teachers of faith in our classrooms.
Lauren is a science teacher at Corner Middle School.
Treye Hanner: Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?
Lauren Wakefield: I currently teach 7th Grade Life Science at Corner Middle School and have been a teacher for 13 years. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with a specialty in General Science from Jacksonville State University as well as an Instructional Leadership degree from JSU. I am the cheer coach here at CMS and also serve as a member of the leadership team.
At a time in my life when I thought I knew my path and the direction for my life, everything changed when my grandmother passed away. My grandmother was a very religious woman and always challenged us to stop trying to be in control of everything and let God lead us. She would say when you take your hands off of it and let God do it, things will always fall in your lap the way they’re supposed to be.
After her death, I did a lot of soul searching about who I was and who I wanted to be and spent a lot of time in prayer over the path of my life. I can’t remember the day, but I do remember the exact moment when the Lord spoke to my heart and told me it was time to change my major and become a teacher.
Treye Hanner: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Lauren Wakefield: The kids! I love developing relationships with all my students and my girls that I coach. The relationships that we create while they are with me are so special because middle school is at such a pivotal time in their lives. They’re still trying to figure out who they are and what they think, so being able to help them build their confidence in themselves and help them learn more about who they are is such an amazing thing to see. I also love getting to experience so many firsts with them such as their first time to bat while wearing our school letters or cheering on their team in uniform for the first time and encouraging them during their first band performance or robotics competition. It’s a huge transitional phase to go from being a 6th grade student in the classroom to a student-athlete and student leader all while learning what it means to represent something more than yourself.
Treye Hanner: Are there special moments where you say to yourself “this is why I teach?”
Lauren Wakefield: There are so many moments that remind me why I’m here. Most of them don’t come in the day-to-day activities, but in the later years when student’s come back and tell me that I made a difference to them. There are students that I taught in my first year as an educator that I still check in with just to see how they’re doing and celebrate the events of their lives with them. I see these moments through my students as we watch them grow into successful adults and break the chains of poverty, abuse, neglect and so many other obstacles that our students face in their daily lives. I have students who have played pro-sports, become doctors, made breakthroughs in neuroscience research, served in the military, and established a career that will help them provide for their families for the rest of their lives. Being able to see them succeed and knowing that I played a small role in their life makes every day worth what we do.
Treye Hanner: What challenges have you experienced while having to teach through the pandemic?
Lauren Wakefield: The biggest hit of the pandemic in my opinion was the loss of face-to-face contact and instruction. Teaching from a distance learning standpoint was extremely challenging especially with a hands-on course. As a science teacher, it is extremely crucial that students get that hands-on experience to understand abstract concepts. Trying to show visuals and conduct labs through a virtual point of view is less engaging for the students and continues to put students who weren’t logging in even further behind. Another challenge is the loss of relationships that teachers work so hard to develop with our students. When students don’t log in or you can’t see their face, it is much harder to identify them, much less get to know them. Every student we teach has a different learning style so being able to work with them face to face makes it easier to learn how to reach that student.
Treye Hanner: What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?
Lauren Wakefield: We truly are here for the kids. There are so many days we go home and worry about our kids and think about their safety during storms or whatever situation they may be enduring. I would also like for people to know that these kids are more than a one-year investment and that we follow them, pray for them, and keep up with all the things they are accomplishing throughout the duration of their lives. We want them to know that we see these kids as more than a letter grade or a statistic from a standardized test and see every kid for the individual that they are. Teaching is more than curriculum and textbooks; it’s about being who and what they need us to be when they need it and that’s why we are here.