Kindergarten teacher Deale Fitch, Buford City Schools 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year, knows she”s got the perfect job.
"Teaching kindergarten is, without a doubt, the most rewarding grade to teach," asserts Fitch. "Kindergarten students arrive every morning with a smile on their face and an eagerness to learn. Every experience is fresh and new to them."
The growth and achievement Fitch sees during the year is also remarkable to her. "They arrive in August knowing their ABCs and 123s. When they leave us in May, they are reading and writing, adding and subtracting. They”ve learned important social skills, such as courtesy, loyalty, respect and self-control that they will take with them for a lifetime," she explains.
Fitch has been teaching for 12 years, but brings a unique perspective to the classroom. A graduate of Virginia Tech, Fitch majored in early childhood education and began her career as a preschool teacher. She also earned her master”s degree and the educational specialist certification. But for financial reasons, she left teaching for another career path.
Twenty-four years later, she "retired" and returned eagerly to the classroom — where she”s happily been for the last five years. "Now that I have returned to teaching, I can”t imagine doing anything else," she says.
As expected, things changed a bit in the years Fitch was not teaching. "When I graduated from college, the first PCs were just being introduced to the market. Now technology is integrated into all aspects of the curriculum."
And the advent of technology has changed even Fitch”s young students. "Today”s students are image oriented. They”ve grown up with Baby Einstein and DVDs in the minivan. Images are the teaching tool of the 21st century," she says. "The students love using the stylus and whiteboard and actually beg for more lessons using this technology. Using the internet allows us to bring in videos and authentic photographs to support the curriculum."
Although Fitch knows firsthand that the financial rewards of teaching may not be as great as other careers, she”s more than happy about the true compensation. "I think that the goal of every teacher is to help shape the future generation one child at a time. To see a former student as a productive and contributing member of society makes it all worthwhile."
Her advice for those considering the profession? "I would warn that they will never become rich on a teacher”s salary, but that by investing in a child”s life, they will be provided an immeasurable return."