8th grade English Language Arts Teacher and Department Chair
Whitewater Middle School
As a department chair, I am frequently charged with shaping curriculum and directing novice English language arts teachers toward rich texts and learning tasks. In my school community, I am valued and sought out as an expert in my content area, which is really a credit to the phenomenal education I received at Peabody. This emphasis on knowing your content and being a thoughtful, reflective practitioner instilled in me the belief that teaching is both an art and a science. This was borne out in my second year of my program when I was in residency at a underserved and under-resourced middle school in East Nashville. My residency experience also strengthened my internal locus of control, which has made me more effective as an educator. My mentor and professor, Dr. Barb Stengel, gave us a valuable piece of advice when we began our program—‘Keep your heart above your head and your eyes wide open.’ This has become my credo. Teaching is a difficult profession, but a bad day does not have to equate to a bad year. Every day that I get to be in the classroom working with young people is a good day!
My experience at Peabody certainly equipped me with the skills and experiences to be an effective teacher. Peabody’s influence also empowered me to be a leader within my professional community— advocating boldly and unashamedly for what I know is best for my students. Concretely, that has meant asking our administrators for funds to purchase copies of our novels in Spanish to support our large population of EL students, advocating for the use of gender-inclusive language within our school’s mission statement and vision, and supporting my eighth-graders in establishing a school diversity club. Peabody taught me that a teacher’s influence can—and should—extend beyond the walls of a classroom and the confines of a curriculum. I try to live into that every day.