MOUNT OLIVE — When Heather Jordan of Clinton looks back on her time at the University of Mount Olive (UMO), she realizes how much of an impact it has made on her as an educator.
“I was very lucky to go to UMO. It is a diverse school filled with different people from many different backgrounds and cultures. I’ve learned so much from them. I am passing that knowledge on to my students to help them develop their cultural awareness,” Jordan explained.
Jordan graduated in 2016 with a degree in elementary education. She now works as a fourth grade teacher at Sunset Avenue School in Clinton.
“I have always loved working with children, and I have had very inspirational and supportive teachers growing up,” Jordan said.
One of Jordan’s biggest inspirations throughout her educational journey has been her family. “My father has always told me that my education comes first, my mother has always puts her children before herself, and my older brother has always been there for me no matter what.”
When it comes to teaching, Jordan has found that the most enjoyable aspect is getting to know her students on a personal level. “I love learning about their interests and personalities, because that helps me teach them. I’m able to pull their interests into lessons, keeping them engaged.”
One of her students said, “Ms. Jordan always asks us about our day, and really listens to us.”
One way Jordan keeps her students engaged is creating different environments for them. She has found that her students respond well to this technique. “I love doing room transformations! After reading a novel, I transform my classroom into one of the scenes from the story. Even though the students are studying, they are engaged, because they are in a different environment, and it is something new and exciting to them.”
Her students agree. One student said, “We have so much fun in Ms. Jordan’s class.” Another commented, “I like Ms. Jordan a lot.”
As an educator, Jordan is faced with the challenges that arise when working in the school system. She believes one of the most pressing challenges in education today is support. “I truly believe that it takes a village to raise a child. Parents need our support, and we need their support,” Jordan said.
Jordan’s students are her biggest motivators to keep improving her skills in the classroom, and she feels very fortunate to be in a position where she can shape the minds of young children. “At times this can feel very overwhelming, but the rewards of teaching a child and getting that ‘aha’ moment outweigh the stress.”
Jordan has seen the influence of her alma mater not only in her education, but in her personal life as well. “I have met some of my best friends at UMO, and would not trade my time with them for anything!”
Sunset Avenue Principal Vanessa Brown is also appreciative to UMO. “It is great being able to recruit and retain quality teachers from the University of Mount Olive. Ms. Jordan is a prime example. Last year Ms. Jordan was one of two teachers selected to attend the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. She was so excited about what she learned. She has incorporated many of the techniques into her daily teaching practices. We’ve just hired another UMO grad, and we have high expectations from him as well.”
As Jordan continues to impact lives as a teacher, she remembers how much her life has been impacted by UMO.
“I am so thankful for my UMO experience. It has transformed me into the educator that I am today,” she concluded.