Q: Tell us a little about your journey to Ensworth. What brought you here. How long you have been here. What you teach.
A: Before I came to Ensworth, I had taught five years in Knoxville after graduating from the University of Tennessee. As I got married and moved to Nashville, my new in-laws told me about this wonderful school they knew of named Ensworth. So I walked into this gabled house and made my way up the old staircase to where the office once used to be. I was greeted at the front desk by Betty Wellman, the secretary at that time. I introduced myself and said I was interested in a possible teaching position, and she just smiled and said, “Oh honey, you will definitely get hired. You have a very funny name and we love to hire people with funny names.” I suppose my name didn’t rank as oddly as “Picklesimer” but yes, I was indeed hired. Nathan Sawyer used to tell me that it wasn’t my name that got me the job; it was my loud whistle. When I stuck my thumb and index finger in my mouth and whistled the kids in from recess, Mr. Sawyer just stared at me and said, “Well, now we know why you’re here.” That was 24 years ago, and my whistle is still going strong.
Whether it was my name or my whistle or maybe the fact that I have a true passion for teaching children, I know I got lucky the day I was hired to teach at Ensworth. Over the years, I have watched the school evolve which in turn allowed my job to evolve as well. I began in the fall of 1989 as the sole English teacher in the fifth grade. After seven years, Kirk Walker knew of my passion for the arts and allowed me to create a speech and drama program for the middle school. For the next five years I had my dream job of teaching drama to sixth and seventh grade students and public speaking classes to the eighth graders. In addition to directing a sixth grade play, a seventh grade play, and the 8th grade play, I formed a Forensic team that competed in area speech and drama competitions with other middle schools in our region. What a fantastic, talented group of kids we had! As our school grew larger and we created more classes for our middle schoolers, Will Moseley asked me to return to teaching English in the sixth and seventh grade. I realized quickly that I had been mistaken five years earlier; THIS was my dream job. And since 2001 I have been growing as a teacher right along with the sixth graders that grow and evolve making this one of the most exciting grades to teach in the whole school.
Q: Of all the books that you teach your students, which do you love the most and why? Which book do the students enjoy most?
A: I have a true passion for every book we read, and my hope is that I will always pass that passion on to my students. I get excited by the ideas that each book generates and when I see the kids getting excited too, it becomes that magical moment where reality hits expectation. With these sixth and seventh graders, I get to combine all aspects of all jobs I’ve had over my past 24 years at Ensworth. We read, we write, we act, we perform, we speak, we think, we grow. In a world of ever changing technology, kids want to be challenged in multiple ways in order to keep them focused, on their toes, and eager for the next big thing. How wonderful, that the creative mind can still be “the next big thing.” How lucky I am to get to see this every day.
Q: If you could trade places with another Ensworth teacher for a day, who would it be and why?
A: People always ask if we could trade places with any other teacher in the school, who would it be. I look at our pre-first teachers all the way up through fifth grade. I watch them interact with their students and I observe how they communicate in the perfect way that those children specifically require. We all spend time moving from grade to grade and from discipline to discipline in our early years of teaching. It gives us an appreciation for what needs must be met at all grade levels. But once we find that niche, that place we belong, it’s hard to imagine ever wanting to leave. I love my sixth grade students and I consider myself so lucky to get to be with these kids every day. On top of that, I get to read and write! In what other job do you get to take two of your favorite hobbies and combine them in a social environment filled with minds that want to learn to do both?