A teaching dream come true
Leigh Dickson always wanted to be a teacher.
"I asked Santa Claus for an overhead back when those were popular and I actually got a chalkboard," Dickson said. "I also always played with baby dolls and taught them. I would do nap time where I took out all of my momma's towels and scattered them all around the living room. My baby dolls went to nap time on their towels."
Her dream of becoming a teacher came true when she got a job teaching first grade at Spindale Elementary School this year. She received her associates degree from Isothermal Community College and applied to work in the school system after recently graduating with a degree from Appalachian State University.
"I'm from Boiling Springs and I did my student teaching in Cleveland County but it was an internal application so you had to work in Cleveland County to get hired," Dickson said. "Rutherford County was hiring all around and I have a lot of connections with the county because I have aunts that work in the school system. My boyfriend's mom is a retired teacher from Rutherford County and I knew a lot about the system."
Before becoming a teacher, Dickson also did several internships through Appalachian and was a kindergarten assistant for a semester in a Cleveland County School. She said she has always wanted to teach kindergarten or first grade.
"I just feel like I get along better with the younger kids. I did my student teaching in fourth grade and I liked the independency because those students know the school and what to do, but I still like the younger ones," Dickson said. "I just like the curriculum and things you can do with them. In the younger grades you can have more fun."
Dickson said having her own classroom is everything she dreamed it would be.
"I love having my own classroom now. While working as an assistant I started finding ways that things could work better and now I get to implement it here and it's fun," Dickson said. "But I'm still learning and I use my assistant for ideas."
Her assistant is Brandi Logan, who spends most of her time in the first grade classroom, only leaving for 30 minutes a day to help in fifth grade.
"This is just as much her classroom as it is mine and I want her help," Dickson said. "You have to have help with first grade."
Recently, Logan is helping Dickson with the small group rotations that were just implemented in the classroom. Dickson said the rotations have been her favorite part of the job so far.
"I like the small group rotations, which is when we do our reading lessons, and I think I'll like it more as time goes on," Dickson said. "I can just tell when I'm right here in front of them, that they are doing what I want them to do and they are getting it."
She has also been taking advantage of the technology that the school system has provided in her classroom.
"We have been using the promethean board a lot. I like working in the school system because they give you what you need to teach. All of the flip charts and everything I bring up on the promethean board have been done by teachers over the summer. So it frees up my time to study it, go over it and figure out what way I need to say it best to my kids for them to learn it," Dickson said. "There's just a lot of support here with curriculum and technology."
Dickson said she is very happy to be at Spindale Elementary and has loved getting to know her coworkers. She is also looking forward to seeing her students' growth throughout the year.
"I have a smart bunch and I'm really excited. I can see them clicking with this new math, I see them already picking it up," Dickson said. "I think these kids are really going to go somewhere."