Kindergarten teacher sets clear and high expectations

Published 10:28 am Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

For 21 years, Tracy Miller taught first and second graders.

That was until this year, when she was asked to teach kindergarten at Pinebrook Elementary School. She was used to other teachers getting the students ready for first grade, and now, the pressure was on her.

She has embraced the role.

Not bad for a college student who first thought she would like to teach in high school. And not bad for a young woman who entered college not knowing a major, lacking career direction.

Tracy had a roommate at the University of South Florida Tampa who was studying education. “A lot of the things she said stuck with me, like working with kids and watching them grow.”

Tracy earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from that school, and later a master’s degree in elementary education from Winston-Salem State University.

She came to Davie County with her husband, and now she never wants to leave.

“I love Davie County. I like the people, there’s no comparison to anywhere else. It’s always like a family, always.”

Tracy wouldn’t change her Pinebrook family, either.

“I feel strongly that every person in this building has the kids’ best interest in their hearts.”

She has enjoyed seeing the differences in kindergarten students. Some come ready to go and know the alphabet well, others not so much. Figuring out how to send them all to the first grade on somewhat the same level was challenging.

“We hit the ground running every morning,” she said. “We start out slowly, then get into it.”

She uses a lot of small group teaching, working with students who are close to the same level. And she believes a routine is important, which was evident when a substitute taught one day.

“The students told her, ‘That’s not how Mrs. Miller does it.”

“The beginning of the year is a lot of practice, and me being consistent with my expectations. We’ve got a well-oiled machine here. We have a doorbell, and when it rings, the kids know what to do.”

She’s been offered jobs at other school systems, for more money, but immediately turns them down.

From the board of education to the superintendent, from the principals to the teachers, and even members of the community, are committed to doing what is best for students, she said.

“That makes a big difference, when you can trust those who make decisions.”

Tracy’s advice to high school students considering a career in teaching? Check it out.

“Get into a classroom as much as possible. Davie High does that. First-hand experience means a lot. That way you can see if you like it or not. Talk to teachers, talke to new teachers, experienced teachers, to get their feel where public education is at,” she said.

“I really have enjoyed this year. I hope to stay in kindergarten.”