Sandi New­sham

Lan­guage Arts teacher’s en­thu­si­asm is spread­ing to the chil­dren

The Covington News - - Education -

Within min­utes of meet­ing Sandi New­sham, it isn’t hard to see why her fifth grade stu­dents at Heard-Mixon Ele­men­tary School think she’s so much fun. Af­ter 14 years of teach­ing, New­sham still has such en­thu­si­asm for her job that her stu­dents can’t help but catch a bit of it them­selves.

New­sham teaches lan­guage arts and is re­spon­si­ble for help­ing stu­dents with their writ­ing and gram­mar skills. And al­though she said she al­ways wanted to be an ed­u­ca­tor, she took a longer road than most to get where she is to­day. Raised in New­ton County, New­sham grad­u­ated from high school and de­cided she didn’t want to spend four more years in school. So she at­tended DeKalb Tech­ni­cal Col­lege and re­ceived a two-year de­gree and went to work at a bank.

While there she was as­signed to train co-work­ers, and many of them com­mented on her teach­ing skills, telling her she had missed her call­ing as a teacher. New­sham took those com­ments into con­sid­er­a­tion and de­cided to sub­sti­tute a few times to see if she liked it. She be­came hooked.

New­sham started go­ing to night school and even­tu­ally earned her de­gree in early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion.

“I had to take the long way around,” she said. “But I am so glad that I did. I re­al­ized I wasn’t happy with what I was do­ing and I wasn’t do­ing what I re­ally wanted to do which was teach.”

Af­ter earn­ing her de­gree from Ge­or­gia Col­lege and State Uni­ver­sity, she went on to earn her Mas­ters in Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion with a spe­cialty in learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties.

“I thought that would al­low me to be a bet­ter teacher to all chil­dren,” she ex­plained.

New­sham taught first grade at Fairview Ele­men­tary for nine years and then de­cided to trans­fer to Heard-Mixon which is where her chil­dren, 8-yearold Anna Claire and 5-year-old Ai­dan, at­tend classes. When she put in for her trans­fer, she found they only had an open­ing for a fifth grade teacher.

“I was scared to death to move to fifth grade,” she said with a laugh. “At first I was re­ally in­tim­i­dated at the thought of teach­ing chil­dren this age. In first grade they are so loving and I love teach­ing them read­ing— see­ing them come in know­ing so lit­tle and when they leave they can read. I love that. First graders still come up and give you a hug.

“But then I re­al­ized that fifth graders are big­ger but they are still chil­dren. Once you let them know that you’re there be­cause you care, then you’ve got them. Once you win them over, you can get them to do what you need to in the class­room.”

New­sham was also re­cently named Heard-Mixon’s Teacher of the Year, a fact that still sur­prises her al­most as much as how Prin­ci­pal Lee Peck let her know she was the school’s choice.

She had just taken her stu­dents to mu­sic when Peck called over the in­ter­com and asked her to stay there with her stu­dents be­cause he needed to speak with all of them. There had been an is­sue in her class that day and, ac­cord­ing to New­sham, she as­sumed they were go­ing to be ad­dressed by the prin­ci­pal about re­spect.

In­stead the door to the class­room opened and in walked Peck with flow­ers, the school’s me­dia spe­cial­ist with a video cam­era and the as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal. They an­nounced to both New­sham and her class she had been cho­sen by her peers as the school’s TOTY.

“I started cry­ing and the kids all started clap­ping. It re­ally is an honor to be cho­sen by my peers. I was, and still am, shocked, sur­prised and very, very hon­ored. I have never once re­gret­ted my de­ci­sion to be­come a teacher. Even on the bad days. It is a plus to have a ca­reer that al­lows me to be with my fam­ily.”

Am­ber Pittman/The Cov­ing­ton News

Sandi New­sham, fifth grade teacher at Heard-Mixon Ele­men­tary School, has taught for 14 years. She pre­vi­ously worked at a bank.

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