Koh is in her third year as a second grade teacher at Southview Elementary School. She received her degree in elementary education from the University of Alabama and has lived in Tuscaloosa for nine years.
“One thing I wish people knew about teaching is how much time and effort goes into a single school day. Along with getting your instruction in for the day, you must also accommodate to each student’s specific needs and learning styles and be ready to give additional support when needed,” she said. “In that same day, you are also a counselor, cheerleader, role model, nurse, friend, mediator, confidant, assessor, and detective (because it wouldn’t be a normal day unless something was lost). And our job isn’t over at 3:00. We have to plan and prepare materials for the next day, along with plenty of other tasks such as paperwork and parent calls. It is exhausting by the end of the day, but there is nothing else I would rather do. When you spend 7 hours a day with the same kids, they become your family, and you will do whatever it takes to make sure your kids are getting all that they need during a given day.”
When it comes to helping children with school at home, Koh said its important to not be afraid to ask a child’s teacher for help.
“There is a lot that has changed since most of us were in elementary school, especially how we teach math,” she said. “So teachers can’t just assume parents know these new methods. When I have parents ask for help, I am happy to meet with them and explain different strategies to help the students learn.”
Koh said she feels her biggest accomplishment as a teacher is when her former students come back to visit her, regardless of the ups and downs of the school year.
One of the downs in a school year can be discipline and its effects on students, but Koh said discipline is essentially another way to say how much a teacher cares.
“When a child has a disciplinary issue, the very first thing to do is to let the child know you love them and that you really care about them. Sometimes that means meeting with them every single morning to remind them that you really want the best for them,” she said. “That develops a mutual respect. If the child doesn’t trust or respect you, their walls will stay up and you’ll never get through to them.”
Koh and her husband have been enjoying the community atmosphere in Tuscaloosa. She said she especially enjoys the new restaurants and stores that have been popping up around town.
While she said it’s easy to call Tuscaloosa home, Koh said her dream vacation has a little more water to it than Title Town.
“It has always been my dream to go to the Maldives,” she said. “The water looks so pretty and serene.”