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Teacher of the Day

Name:  Tammy Stewart 

School:  Cumberland County Board of Education

Subjects:  English, Theatre Arts, Creative Writing, Assistant Principal, School Health Supervisor, Pre-K - Kindergarten Supervisor 

State:  Tennessee 

What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

My educational career has been a lifelong journey that has included many influences along the way. To begin, my first grade teacher, Mrs. Savage, had the most profound impact on my desire to teach. I do not recall a single lesson, learning new vocabulary terms, or how to add and subtract... but I do remember how Mrs. Savage made me feel-- important, loved, safe, and smart. Mrs. Savage trusted me to complete job duties, giving me a foundation in taking the lead to getting jobs done-- hence impressing upon me the importance of helping others. I located her about ten years ago and was able to tell her what an influence she was in my life, and we enjoyed inspiring conversation over a cup of tea. To me, she still looked and acted the same as she did over 40 years ago-- and she is still teaching!

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

I have been teaching for 18 years now and still feel just as passionate about education today as I did the first day I stepped into the classroom! I began teaching high school English and my career evolved as I continued to grow and learn, absorbing every aspect of teaching like a sponge! I loved every hour of grading papers, I cared for my students with a level of mutual respect, and I wept when my students were hurting, I soon discovered my love for leadership and pursued an administrative career. However, I could not give up the classroom! My first year in administration, and on top of all those duties, I organized and sponsored a drama club and directed a student holiday performance and taught a two week poetry unit for 8th grade students. Day one in 1997 all the way to today-- I have grown in confidence, respect for students, parents, colleagues, and for myself. Although the demands for accountability and growth are so much greater today than in the past, the stakes are still the same-- the individual lives of each and every student. We should not view education as a productivity line that produces the same cookie-cutter model student, but rather we should embrace individuality and promote learning and growth for the whole child.

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

Find your balance-- take time for yourself, because if you don't then who will? Do what it takes to meet the demands-- but be sure to have fun with it all! Do not focus on one single component (RTI), but remember that teaching is comprised of numerous variables. Stick with the winners-- avoid staff break rooms where negativity and complaining exist. Always do what is best for the student(s), not what is easiest or most convenient.

My best day in the classroom was when…

This is a tough one to answer... My best day would include my first day teaching-- but I consider each day as my first day because it is a fresh start for all of us. I would also have to say my last day teaching high school-- specifically creative writing. We held a poetry recital and I had a classroom publication of student writings for each student. At the time, I did not know it would be my last day in the classroom, and maybe that's what makes it so special. We all cried at one point and time that day...even the tough 18-year-old men! We had a connection unlike any other in my career.

The best compliment I ever received was...

There are so many... I would have to say when a former student registered his child at the school where I was an administrator and stated that when he saw I was the assistant principal, he knew his daughter had to attend at that school...the only thing better would be for his daughter to have me as her teacher. That was very humbling!

What's your favorite part of the school year?

Another tough one to respond... Do I have to state just one? I love the first day of school-- every aspect and detail! I also love it when I attend student graduations-- celebrating their success with them is a tremendous award and honor!

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

A no. 2 pencil, sharpened and eraser in tact!

What do you eat for breakfast on school days?

Eat? Does coffee count as breakfast?

What movie or TV show do you secretly love?

"Game of Thromes"


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