Kimberly Terry teaches fifth grade and is technology coordinator at John Nevins Andrews School in Takoma Park. She received the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award from the Alumni Awards Foundation, a foundation that supports Seventh-day Adventist schools in North America. Terry was interviewed at The Gazette office in Laurel on June 16.
Tell me about your journey to teaching. Did you always want to teach?
Yes, I think always. I was always a kid magnet.
Can you give me some examples of how you were a ďkid magnet?Ē
This past May, while visiting my grandmotherís church, I was sitting in the sanctuary, wearing a dress and high heels, when a young boy, about 7, whom Iíve never even seen or met before, came up and asked me if I wanted to play with him. I was the only person in the room he asked! Iím not sure the real reason but... I think kids just sense that Iím playful.
By sixth grade I knew for sure [I wanted to be a teacher]. Iíd get to school early to help the first grade teacher.
How long have you been teaching?
Seventeen years.What is the hardest part of your job?
Keeping up with grading papers! Staying on top of kids who havenít [done] their work. Keeping them motivated to do the work and be interested in learning. Help them do their best.
Its hard to make connections now because these kids are so into technology. They will say things in text, online, tweet, anything digital but they wonít say it face to face.
How do you combat that?
A combination of both methods, I guess. I encourage expressing feelings and emotions face to face and try to develop interpersonal skills. They need to be able to express themselves well with both their peers and adults. Especially when conflict arises between students, I will help them talk through their issues with each other. But when a student needs a listening ear and face-to-face contact is not available, I will communicate through email, Facebook, texting, or phone as needed, whatever the student ... is most comfortable with.
What do you consider the best part of your job?
Iíve always been motivated by the intrinsic value, the satisfaction when they come back to see me. The feeling I get from being successful, making a difference so they want to come back. You canít put a price on that.
Were you surprised to learn that you won the Alumni Awards Foundation 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award?
I was. I actually had to write something for it. Questions like, why did I choose to be a teacher, what attracts me?
Itís the students, not the curriculum so much, connecting with the students.
Why is that so important to you?
Probably because school is supposed to be a safe place and I think because kids learn better when they have a teacher they can connect with.
Can you tell me about teaching in an Adventist school?
Our religious beliefs are foremost. We are a Christ-centered school. We try to get the kids to know Him as their friend and savoir and move onto service to Him in their careers and futures, in whatever they do.
You started as a computer teacher and IT specialist then switched to fifth-grade. Do you like having one class?
They did away with the IT job and I liked being involved with the fifth grade, but for the 2012-2013 school year I will be back to computer classes. I will work with all the students, which I love.
We have 35 computers in the lab and a few in every classroom. We work on donations of computers and I put them together.
Can you tell me how you see the future of technology in the classroom?
Technology has always been a tool. The kids already have it — they are one up on their parents. They need to know how to use it to find answers. [Now] they want to be fed, they want the answers.
ďVoices in EducationĒ is a twice-monthly feature that highlights the men and women who are involved with the education of Montgomery Countyís children. To suggest someone you would like to see featured e-mail Peggy McEwan at email@example.com.