First year teacher shares experience so far

Henderson Ward Stewart second grade teacher Adrienne VanDolzer began her first year in the classroom this week. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Charlie Benton
Staff Writer

On Tuesday, Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary School second grade teacher Adrienne VanDolzer began her first year teaching.

VanDolzer graduated in elementary education from Mississippi State University and completed an internship teaching first grade in Louisville. She is a native of Kingwood, Texas.

The SDN caught up with her Thursday to discuss her first year experience so far, and plans to catch up with her again near the end of the school year.

Q: What was your first thought when your feet hit the floor on the first day?

A: “I was nervous, excited, you know, every emotion, excited to have my own group of kids, nervous because I had never had a first day in the classroom. In my internship, it was the middle of the year, so they were already trained and had routines, but now I’m having to set my own. I think the kids are feeling the same thing. They’re nervous and excited, too.”

Q: Now that you’ve had a few days in the classroom, what are you finding to be the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your job?

A: “There’s so many things. I’ve kind of seen how we’re already coming together as a classroom family just in three days, building relationships, building community, like today we had a dance party in the morning just to kind of get warmed up and excited for the day. The most challenging thing is just getting in a routine. They’re new to this school, too. They’re new to second grade, so just teaching them ‘this is how we line up. This is how we go to the lunchroom. This is how we do buses in the afternoon.’ Just setting those routines has been challenging, but every day it’s gotten better.”

Q: What are your hopes for yourself as a teacher this year?

A: “Really, just to get to know my kids really well, to build relationships with them and to see them grow. You know, (from) Tuesday to see them grow all the way to May, their attitude, their knowledge and behavior. I’m excited to see how they grow, and myself too, as an educator. I’m excited to learn alongside them myself.”

Q: What are your hopes for your students this year?

A: “I want them to believe in themselves, and discover their passion, purpose and potential. They’re so young, but they can still find what they are passionate about. I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was their age.”

Q: Why did you choose to become a teacher?

A: “I feel like I have a lot of love to give. I love learning myself, and I want my students to love to learn, too. I love people, and just getting to love on a little classroom is a dream come true.”

Q: Have the first few days been what you expected?

A: “Luckily, I have some great mentors and other teachers on the hall who have prepared me and warned me, given me advice. I’m so glad that they did. I had expectations. It’s been what I expected, It’s been crazy, which is what I expected, but it’s been really good.”