“During the duration of my employment at GICA, we have seen an increase in our students’ zeal to be at school and a dramatic growth in their academic and social skills,” Dr. McCarter said. “The enthusiasm of many students has been a direct result of the passion Susan has for being a part of the community it takes to raise a child. Though she has been an asset to our goals for student academics, Susan has been extraordinarily helpful in other areas of the school. In addition to writing effective lesson plans, Susan assumes a leadership role by inspiring and motivating other employees with her positive and caring personality.”
We talked with Susan about teacher leadership, collaboration, and her road to education.
When did you know you wanted to be a teacher? What was your path to the profession?
After nursing school I realized how much I loved teaching patients and colleagues. I returned to school to get a master’s degree in health education and after many years practicing as a registered nurse, I landed my dream job teaching health science classes to high school students.
What would you say is the number-one lesson you’ve learned about students in the years you’ve been in education?
If you make a lesson interesting to students and relevant to their lives, they often stay focused and engaged. Students learn in a safe and secure environment where they feel valued, with teachers who are caring, fair, and bring structure to their lives. And, they love technology and competitive learning games!
Your nominator spoke highly of your collaborative spirit and the way you motivate your colleagues. In the midst of the demands of the school day, how do you prioritize working collaboratively with other educators?
I strive to be positive, helpful and make it a priority to correspond to others daily. I encourage sharing of teaching strategies and any learning activities that are appropriate for other classrooms. We also support and teach each other. This caring atmosphere creates a caring and encouraging environment where we all feel valued and important.
What advice would you offer to a teacher early in his or her career?
Take care of yourself. Make sure you balance your personal life with your career. Find a mentor that supports and encourages you. Learn how to deal with stress and concentrate on why you became a teacher and your role in inspiring students to improve their lives.