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Teacher of the Day

Name:  Jennifer Nelson

School: Hickory Flat Elementary School

Subject: Second grade

State:  Georgia

What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I had many teachers in my school years who were inspiring examples, from Mrs. Killian in first grade to my math teacher Mr. Spear in middle school all the way to Dr. Elizabeth Baker, who taught educational technology while I was pursuing a master's degree.

How are things different for you now, compared to when you first started teaching?

When I began teaching 20 years ago, there were very few computers connected with education. The world has opened up through the availability of technology, and our classroom walls have bcome invisible. We now can share classroom accomplishments and information through a Web site and send home newsletters via email. I have tablets in my classroom and Mp3 players that contain the entire Magic Tree House audio book collection. Both were obtained through classroom grants won over the years. I also have special needs students in my regular classroom throughout the day. This year I have two blind girls that have made me rethink how I teach and how students learn. They inspire me every day.

What advice would you give to a new or struggling teacher?

It is difficult in the world of education right now. It seems like all the news is bad news and people are constantly saying what is wrong. Keep your eyes open for the things that go right throughout your day. Don't get bogged down in the endless paperwork. Remember to laugh and hug students back when they come offering hugs. Write down the funny things they say and share them with other teachers. Keep a journal or scrapbook of those pictures and notes they make for you, because those are the things that will help you remember the reason we teach. The students have not changed throughout my years of teaching. They still need a teacher who will inspire them to never stop learning.

My best day in the classroom was when…

There are too many to count. Just a couple of weeks ago, my students were writing "I'm Thankful For" papers. Two of my students chose to write their papers all about me. I cried when they brought them to me to conference with them before their final copy. I do not take it lightly that they thought of me to write about. It was a great honor and touched me deeply. I copied and scanned them so that I could look back on those bad days and be reminded that some things I do can make a difference.

The best compliment I ever received was...

I had a student before the Thanksgiving break who told me he didn't want to miss school for the whole week. When I asked him why, he told me it was because he wanted to come here to learn. That was a great compliment that he didn't even really mean for me, but I took it! I know that much of my job is to make my students want to come to school, and he showed me in that sentence that maybe it's working!

What's your favorite part of the school year?

I love the fall. The classroom already feels like a family, and we have all learned how to work together. I like going outside with a chill in the air and helping students achieve as much as possible, and it feels like once the fall comes it is easier to do.

What is your one must-have item for the classroom?

My cup of coffee.

What do you eat for breakfast on school days?

A Thermos of strong coffee and a granola bar.

What movie or TV show do you secretly love?



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