The Lebanon Democrat is in the process of running question-and-answer profiles of the Wilson County educators who have been selected as the teacher of the year in their respective schools.
Those individuals, from both the Wilson County School System and the Lebanon Special School District, are in contention for the Wilson County Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced later this spring.
We continue the series of profiles with a glance at Alyssa Hargis, a second- and third-grade reading specialist at Lebanon’s Jones Brummett Elementary School …
Name … Alyssa Hargis
School … Jones Brummett Elementary
Age … 31
What grade/subject do you teach? Second- and third-grade reading (reading specialist)
How long have you been in education (total years)? 9 years
How many years have you taught at your current school? 1 … it is a brand new school in the Lebanon Special School District.
What other schools have you taught at prior to your current school? Trousdale County Elementary, West Elementary and Byars Dowdy Elementary
What is something unique about you — whether it’s a hobby, skill or past accomplishment — that most people likely wouldn’t be aware of? I enjoy public speaking and even won some awards for it during my school years.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time (hobbies, etc.)? I love spending time with family and friends, going on road trips, and enjoying live music.
Is there anything unique about your teaching situation that you’d like to detail? I am the reading specialist at Jones Brummett Elementary, so I teach reading to smaller groups of second and third-grade students each day.
How would you describe your teaching style? I would describe my teaching style as structured and routine but also relational and engaging. I think it is so important to build bonds with students while assisting them in reaching their goals.
Could you share a couple of strategies for how that you keep students engaged and motivated? I weave novelty into my lessons and incorporate things like group work, projects, or technology to keep students engaged. Aside from that, I make sure to give my students genuine and specific compliments/feedback. They love to hear the why and how behind their own success.
Have you ever encountered a challenge in teaching that required you to rethink your teaching methods and/or approach? Yes. I have spent a ton of time during my career ensuring that all students are getting what they need from me. If I don’t feel like I am differentiating enough, I often rethink and create a new plan so that all of my students are successful.
What is different, unique and/or enjoyable about the school that you are currently teaching at? Jones Brummett Elementary was just opened this past fall. It has been such an enjoyable experience to watch school culture cultivate from the ground up. Not only do we have the most fantastic administrative team and group of teachers, but there is a feeling of pride knowing that we are the first group to lead the students of JBE.
Why did you choose teaching as a career path? I remember being a little girl sitting in the mulch on the playground teaching all of my friends how to skip count. I feel my best when I am helping others. Each day at school is a chance to do just that.
What is the most fulfilling part of teaching? The light-bulb moment a student has when they realize they can read is worth a million pounds of gold. I am consistently provided with the opportunity to lead my students in learning something new but also making sure they feel loved and safe in our classroom.
What is the most challenging part of teaching? The most challenging parts of teaching are the logistical aspects. There are always things to do. I have had to learn to balance my personal and professional life.
How has your view of teaching changed since you first embarked on your teaching career? I did not realize just how precious each moment of the day is. I remember student teaching and coming to the realization that five minutes was actually a lot of time. As teachers, we utilize each moment of our day.
How have you seen the profession change over the course of your career, and how do you see it continuing to evolve going forward? Each year is a little different from the last. For example, there are far more technological resources available, and students are increasingly more technologically savvy. As our world changes, so do schools.
If there was any one variable that you could control or enhance to help with the educational process, what would that be and why? I wish I could control students’ access to engaging text outside of my classroom. Each child has individual interests that change as time goes on, so consistently providing them with books they are intrigued by would be a game-changer in creating life-long readers.
Who is somebody who has been especially impactful in your teaching career, and why did he/she make such an impact on you? Jones Brummett’s principal, Mrs. Becky Siever, has positively impacted me as a teacher in so many ways. I have never met anyone quite like her. She has a way of delivering information to you in the kindest way, but also giving specific and relevant feedback when needed. She has provided me with a solid representation of what a great leader looks like as she always puts students first and makes decisions with grace. I strive to always be fair but thoughtful like she is.
Could you share what has been one of your most memorable moments in teaching? One of my most memorable moments was during a class celebration we had where a group of parents were volunteering to help with a project. One of the parents pulled me aside before she left and explained how impressed she was that every student in my class thanked her each time she handed them an item. While my goal is for all students to learn, I also work hard to emphasize the importance of kindness and positive decision-making. I was so proud that others were seeing evidence of this while interacting with my students.
What is the most meaningful thing a student could say to you? The most meaningful thing a student could say is that I made a positive impact on their lives.
How would you ideally like to be characterized or remembered as a teacher? I would like to be remembered as a teacher who genuinely cares about her students and their well-being… even after our year together has ended. When a student is in my classroom, they are one of my kids forever.