We begin our second season of our Teacher Spotlight Series with 7th grade math teacher and head volleyball coach at Corner Middle School, Rebekah Darnell. Rebekah was recently also honored as the Teacher of the Year at CMS.
Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?
Rebekah Darnell: I grew up in Gardendale and I am happily married to my best friend, Nick. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, playing and/or coaching volleyball and exercising. I have always known that I was meant to be a teacher. Growing up I enjoyed school but mostly enjoyed anything that involved Mathematics. While math just came naturally to me, I knew that was not the case for most people. I wanted to provide students with a positive mathematical experience in school, so that is why I decided to become a math teacher.
What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Rebekah Darnell: While there are many things that I love about being a teacher, my most favorite part is building relationships with my students that allow them to feel safe and comfortable while they are in my classroom. Sometimes we spend more time with our students than they do with their own families, so ensuring that they know how much they are loved and cared about at school is very important to me. I believe that when students feel loved and cared for in a school environment, their mindset changes, therefore they are less likely to be unsuccessful.
Are there special moments where you say to yourself “this is why I teach?”
Rebekah Darnell: I have a few “this is why I teach moments”, but at the top of the list is when my students start to make sense of what we are learning and are confident in their thinking. When I see that imaginary lightbulb go off for them, that’s my “this is why I teach” moment. Seeing them confident in whatever skill we are working on is what makes my job the best job there is. Confidence is hard to come by, especially in middle school, so helping my students feel confident enough to take those risks, knowing there is a potential to fail but taking that risk anyways, means that they are growing. When we don’t fail, we have no room to grow.
What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?
Rebekah Darnell: One thing I would like people to know about teachers is that we truly love and care about each and every student that is placed in our classrooms. We spend a lot of time outside of our scheduled work hours brainstorming and preparing on how we can help serve our students day to day, not just academically but socially/ emotionally. We will do whatever it takes to help your child be successful. We are dedicated to making sure that your student gets an appropriate education, while feeling safe, loved and cared about during their time spent with us.
If you had one wish for something special for your classroom, what would it be?
Rebekah Darnell: If I had one wish for something special in my classroom, it would be a ‘Comfy Corner’ that the students could earn chances to sit in. This would include comfy seating (chairs, couch, beanbags, etc), pillows, rugs, rope lights. Ideally, it would be a space that is not your usual classroom set up but more of a comfortable, relaxing setting.