With the weather warming, exams ending, and the possibilities of summer looming ahead, May fills area schools with electric excitement. Students’ stresses begin to fade away, as they are treated to end-of-the-year celebrations and movie days in class. They enthusiastically make plans with their friends about how to spend their newfound free time during a vacation that seems like it will last forever.
Like all great teachers, Beth Duncan knows it takes hard work to make a difference in a child’s life. Her influence over her students isn’t something she takes lightly. The knowledge that she can have a positive impact her students’ education makes all her hard work worth it.
Many people think of kindergarten as not much more than recess, nap time, and the occasional coloring session. However, teachers like Kathryn Maness know the job isn’t as easy as it seems.
“Teaching kindergarten has been the most difficult, yet rewarding experience I have ever had. I leave work exhausted, but feeling accomplished most days,” Maness said.
Kayla Boone-Davis may not have been teaching as long as most of her co-workers, but there is no doubt she has already made her mark. This will be her third year teaching first grade at Flatwoods Elementary School.
Tiffany Cargile isn’t interested in boring lesson plans. As a kindergarten teacher at Westwood Elementary, she said she tries to keep her students' attention with more interactive lessons.
Jessica Sentell has been in the Tuscaloosa area since graduating from the University of Alabama in 2004. She began teaching at Brookwood Elementary School and now has a home at Echols Middle School.
Sentell teaches Special Education Inclusion for sixth graders, and tackles teamwork on a daily basis. She said her role calls for spending more time in other teachers’ classrooms than her own.
“Since I work in other teachers’ classes more than my own, I have the pleasure of collaborating with awesome teachers and am able to observe some amazing lessons and often steal strategies and tricks I see my fellow colleagues use,” she said.
Darlene Tucker will have been teaching for 10 years in 2018, and she’s already paved her way with a long list of accomplishments. After graduating from the University of Alabama in 2008, Tucker went on to receive her Masters and Doctoral degrees, and has taught at Duncanville Middle School since 2011.
“Teaching, I believe, is a choice for the dedicated. It takes a certain type of person to survive this area of life,” Tucker said. “Most of the teachers who are in this profession are in it because of the passion they have for the profession and for the gratification it brings in helping students succeed academically, not because of the benefits or financial gains.”
It’s hard for Kathryn Wilkerson to imagine herself doing anything else besides teaching.
“I can’t imagine my life without brutally-honest and filled-with-potential teenagers,” she said.
Wilkerson’s teaching career began immediately after college, when a teacher quit in the middle of the school year. Though she moved away from Tuscaloosa after the school year was over, Wilkerson said she was thrilled to be offered a job before the ink dried on her degree.
Shari Taylor’s favorite thing growing up definitely wasn’t school.
“I guess the funny thing is, I really never loved school, but because of my parents, teachers and mentors throughout the years I have been led to a career in teaching,” she said.
April Henderson, first grade teacher at Taylorville Primary School, said she thinks teachers make accomplishments every day.