Teaching is more than a paycheck

By Greg Gelpi

With her back to the classroom as she wrote on the board, she turned to find every member of the class focused on her lesson.

"I just stopped and said ?Wow. I'm a teacher now,'" said Kimberly Haynes, who is completing her first year of teaching as a first grade teacher at Church Street Elementary School. "I was surprised that every single person was doing it."

Pausing a moment to savor the "awesome" feeling, Haynes said she turned back to the board and continued her lesson.

"Obviously, I said something that caught their attention," she said. "When you catch their attention you have to keep going."

With National Teacher's Day on Tuesday, Haynes reflected on her choice to become a teacher. Her mother, father, grandmother and grandfather were teachers, she said.

"It's an exciting adventure every day," she said, explaining that at the age of 5 she decided to follow in her mother's footsteps. "I wanted to be just like her."

Transferred from fourth grade to first grade less than a month into the school year, Haynes has handled the curve balls that have come her way.

"You just have to have a big mitt," she said.

As a student teacher in North Carolina, Haynes student taught in a school with few resources, but many low-income students.

"When I did my student teaching, it really prepared me," she said.

In her teaching, she quickly learned that teaching means showing and that you must practice what you teach.

"What you teach them, you have to show," Haynes said. "After a while, you have a lot of ?Mini-Me's.'"

She has no regrets, Haynes said. "But, ask me again in 29 years."

As a teacher with 26 years of teaching experience, Joanne Killikelly said that a classroom teacher is the hardest job in the school system.

Killikelly, 54, is an Early Intervention Program teacher at Suder Elementary School.

"When I first went into college, I didn't know what I wanted to do," she said, adding that she entered the business world after graduation. "It took me six weeks of doing that and I realized I don't like the business world."

Her college professors encouraged her to enter teaching, and she found that she was good at it. The variety of the profession has kept her going ever since.

"You can teach in education 25 years and have different experiences every year," Killikelly said.

Working as an Early Intervention Program teacher for the past four years has brought out the "nurturing" part of her, she said.

"My own personal preference is to work with the low performing students," Killikelly said. "I like the challenge. You get your rewards from helping someone in need."

Teaching is more than a job and means more than a paycheck, she said.

"You get your check from the county, but you get your rewards from the children," Killikelly said.

As a veteran in education, she shared advice for new teachers and those studying to become teachers.

"The biggest challenge is overcoming the feeling of not being appreciated," Killikelly said. "My advice to a new teacher would be to try to do better in something everyday. I don't know if you can do all of it at once. It takes time."

It can be a struggle between teaching the curriculum and teaching the child as an individual, Killikelly said.

"It's more than teaching the lessons," she said. "It's teaching the children. You are not really teaching a class. You are teaching 22 individual people. It's a challenge to reach each one of them, but that's what teaching is."

Teaching is also a process of continually learning, she said. She will finish her final classes this summer to earn her specialist degree in education.