An aca­demic ap­ti­tude

Teacher has learned much in five years

The Covington News - - SCHOOL BEAT - By Jenny Thompson

Jamie Sav­age — sec­ond grade teacher at Por­terdale El­e­men­tary School— has only taught for five years, so the young ed­u­ca­tor was thrilled to find her col­leagues had se­lected her as Por­terdale’s 2008 Teacher of the Year.

“It’s a big honor,” Sav­age said.

Sav­age said she has al­ways known she wanted to teach.

“When I was in third grade, our teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up,” Sav­age said, “and I said I wanted to do it and stuck with it.”

Her grand­mother also en­cour­aged her to pur­sue a de­gree in teach­ing be­cause she had al­ways wanted to, but never had the op­por­tu­nity.

Sav­age taught first grade her first three years out of school, but said she prefers sec­ond grade now be­cause stu­dents are more in­de­pen­dent.

As a class­room teacher and sub­sti­tute at Por­terdale’s Af­ter School Academy, or af­ter­noon tu­tor­ing pro­gram, she ad­vo­cates small group work and ro­tat­ing cen­ters to keep chil­dren on task.

“I try to keep them busy — not just sit­ting in their desks,” Sav­age said. “I don’t stand and lec­ture.”

She also tries to in­cor­po­rate games into ev­ery sub­ject when­ever pos­si­ble.

Ac­cord­ing to Sav­age, by giv­ing stu­dents plenty to do, it gives them less time to be­have badly.

In ad­di­tion to com­pil­ing brag books— col­lect­ing com­pli­ments from oth­ers to­ward a party — Sav­age gives her stu­dents mar­bles for stay­ing on task. So many mar­bles equals a “mar­ble party.”

Sav­age said pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment is gen­er­ally more ef­fec­tive than pun­ish­ing neg­a­tive be­hav­ior.

She said al­ready in her five years of teach­ing, she has learned ed­u­ca­tion is an ex­tremely de­mand­ing field.

“Prob­a­bly one of the hard­est things is see­ing stu­dents come from home lives that may not be the best,” Sav­age said, “and in the small time I have with them, make a pos­i­tive im­pact on them.”

De­spite the many chal­lenges, Sav­age said she loves af­ter Christ­mas when stu­dents come back to school un­der­stand­ing things they did not be­fore the break. She said some­thing about the hol­i­day break makes dif­fi­cult lessons sink into stu­dents’ minds.

For now Sav­age is sim­ply teach­ing, rather than try­ing to earn one of the many de­grees avail­able for teach­ers to in­crease their salaries.

“I def­i­nitely will stay in ed­u­ca­tion,” Sav­age said. “ I couldn’t imag­ine leav­ing ed­u­ca­tion, but I maybe want to ex­plore my op­tions — maybe el­e­men­tary coun­sel­ing.”

Sav­age said she loves the hugs and draw­ings from stu­dents as­so­ci­ated with be­ing a sec­ond grade teacher.

She also en­joys stu­dents and par­ents com­ing by to visit her — some ev­ery morn­ing — af­ter they have grad­u­ated from her class.

Stu­dents in Sav­age’s first, first grade stu­dents are now in fifth grade and will be un­able to pop in ev­ery morn­ing. While she will miss those stu­dents, she said the beauty of teach­ing is each year you have the op­por­tu­nity to touch more young lives.

“The best part of be­ing a teacher is see­ing the ones, es­pe­cially from bad sit­u­a­tions, see­ing their face light up when they fig­ure some­thing out and their smiles,” Sav­age said, “ smiles from ones who may not come in here with one.”

Jenny Thompson/The Cov­ing­ton News

For all the mar­bles: Jamie Sav­age, sec­ond grade teacher at Por­terdale El­e­men­tary School, tries to in­cor­po­rate games into as many lessons as she can be­cause she says it keeps stu­dents in­ter­ested and fo­cused.

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