Monday morning, when the doors of Sunset Avenue School open for another school year, fourth-grade teacher Bobbie Jo Matthis will stand at the front of her classroom for the first time.
Matthis, and hundreds of other teachers for Clinton City Schools, began a new school year yesterday, but unlike most, Matthis is beginning not only a new school year, but a new career.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping my own kids and watching their faces when they learn something new,” Matthis said. “So, deciding to return to school and become a teacher was an easy decision.”
When Matthis’ son was just six months old, she said she started going back to school to further her education. Like many moms, she eventually had to put completing her education on the back burner, but has now obtained her bachelor’s degree and teaching certification and is beginning a new career.
“I have worked on and off to complete my degree, but I have finally finished and I am excited about my new beginning,” she said.
Despite being older than the average student or beginning teacher, completing her degree and fulfilling her dreams was something Matthis said she did for not only herself, but her children.
“I taught my kids that if they want to do something, they can,” she added. “I wanted to do it and I did it.”
The lesson is one she plans to teacher her students, as well.
“I will be able to show my kids that I teach that it is possible to obtain the goals you set for yourself,” the math and science teacher added.
As for the new school year, Matthis said she is most looking forward to that moment when she sees that look on her students’ faces when they accomplish something for the first time.
For the upcoming school year, Matthis is joined by 10 other beginning teachers. Some, young and fresh out of college, while others are veterans to the professional world. The 11 beginning teachers will receive assistance in their new endeavors from Juandalynn Ray, the teacher advancement coordinator for Clinton City Schools.
“Eighteen years ago, I was right where these new teachers are today,” Ray explained. “And like these new teachers, I was nervous and didn’t know what to think or expect for the upcoming year.”
In her new position, Ray said she will work closely with all beginning teachers, but most especially close to the 11 who are stepping into the field for the first time.
Ray will be overseeing and working to strengthen the Beginning Teacher Support program without losing focus on the veteran staff who also need high quality professional development and teacher leadership opportunities.
Additionally, Ray will lead a teacher advisory group, oversee the continuing accreditation process for AdvancED and help to create instructional alignment. As part of the curriculum and instruction team, she will be highly visible in every school and will also represent the system on a regional and state level.
While most teachers are concerned about getting into their classrooms and getting things ready for the new year, Ray said it’s her job to work with those teachers are have more on their minds.
“They are already establishing those relationships with their co-workers, who like them, had their first day as a teacher,” Ray said. “We want them to have a great experience, and learn what they can do to become the best teacher.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.