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Teacher of the Day

Name:  Shirley Helton

School:  Fairlawn Elementary

Subject:  Language Arts and Social Studies

State:  FL
What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

My parents inspired me to become a teacher. My father went to school in a one-room school with one teacher and all grades from first to high school. He said that an education was the most important asset that anyone could receive, and that the giver of that education is a truly dedicated and wonderful person. He believed in me as that person and made sure I had the opportunity to go to school. He worked in the coal mines of Kentucky, which at that time was hard work with little pay, to make sure I could become a teacher and try to help the people in our community get an education and not have to work at low-paying jobs. My family knew that I could have chosen other careers, but none was more meaningful than teaching. Giving the gift of knowledge to others is more rewarding to me than anything.

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

When I first started teaching, everything had to be done by hand. Today, technology is the key for both students and teachers. So by far, the learning tools are the biggest change for me. Students are still ready for a teacher with enthusiasm and the love of teaching. I embrace each new year and each new group of students with pride.

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

Take advice from the veteran teachers at your school, follow your instincts, learn from the students about technology, have confidence in yourself, and stop to will help.

My best day in the classroom was when…

My students cheered when it was time for social studies. I love teaching history, and my students love learning about history.

The best compliment I ever received was...

"My daughter wants to become a history teacher just like you!"

What's your favorite part of the school year?

I love the time when we are celebrating historical events by writing plays on the Constitution, inviting veterans into our class, learning how to use the voting machines, holding mock trials. I guess I enjoy the entire year!

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

A computer

What do you eat for breakfast on school days?

Oatmeal with blueberries and a glass of milk

What movie or TV show do you secretly love?

Gone With the Wind


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