Now in her 20th year of teaching, Wilkerson teaches Spanish and English at Hillcrest High School. She received her degree from the University of Alabama and is dual-certified in English and Spanish.
Wilkerson said she feels accomplished as a teacher when her students can make real-world connections with her lessons. She’s happy to help them see the benefit of what they’re being taught, she said.
“I teach Spanish 1 and 2 which means we discuss geography, history, and culture, as well as vocabulary and basic grammar. When my kids come to class, tell me with a smile and a sense of pride how they’ve used the target language, it’s my favorite moment of the day,” she said. “Just recently, an 11th grade girl in my Spanish 2 class started working in an after school program. One of the children in the program didn’t speak any English. My student could communicate with the little girl, so they immediately formed a bond.”
She said her advice to new teachers would be to buckle up. Teaching is filled with some of the most challenging and rewarding days, but it’s important to remember that the students are the reason teachers are even present, she said.
“When the days get long and the room gets loud and demands seem to weigh you down, picture the faces of those kids who really need you and are counting on you,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson said she wishes people knew that those who teach truly feel a calling to work with children. Those who teach have a genuine love of all the aspects related to educating and preparing students for life.
“A successful student and citizen is our goal. I’m always so proud when I’m out and about and I come across a former student contributing to the community,” she said. “Whether it’s in a doctor’s office, a restaurant, or a grocery store, in some small way I helped get them ready for life.”
She encourages parents to never give up on their children, and she said they’re not alone. She said her goals are the same as the parents, in that she wishes success for a student.
“There is no getting through to students until you’ve won them over, until they see you’re not the enemy,” she said. “So, in the process of teaching them content, I do my best to make sure they know I truly care about them and their success, which usually establishes mutual respect.”