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Whitaker Joins Elementary Staff

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Whitaker Joins Elementary Staff

Miss Juliann Whitaker-Second Grade Teacher

Miss Juliann Whitaker-Second Grade Teacher

Photographer-Jacob Presley

Miss Juliann Whitaker-Second Grade Teacher

Photographer-Jacob Presley

Photographer-Jacob Presley

Miss Juliann Whitaker-Second Grade Teacher

Jalen Andrews, Managing Editor

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One of the newest additions to the Thayer staff this year is Ms. Juliann Whitaker, a Thayer graduate who has come back to teach in the elementary school. Ms. Juliann Whitaker is teaching in the second grade this year, and is very excited. CAT CHAT asked her a few questions about what she did when she left, and about her return back.

Q. Where did you go to college? How long?

A. I attended College of the Ozarks in the fall of 2012 and graduated in November of 2016. I was a registered CofO student for nine semesters, or four and half years. The last semester being my student teaching.

Q. Were the college classes difficult?

A. Yes, the classes were very difficult and challenging. There are many reasons CofO is nicknamed “Hard Work U” and the college courses are definitely one of them.

Q. Have you always planned on being a teacher?

A. Subconsciously, yes I believe I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I never went around telling everyone as a kid I was going to be a teacher. Although, my mother claims she could see the signs when I would make my little brother play school with me. It was rather convenient since he was homeschooled at a young age and had to do the school work anyway.

Q. What made you want to be a teacher?

A. First of all, I love children! Second, I know what it is like to not feel successful in school and I didn’t want children to feel that way.  I have dyslexia, but I was one of the lucky ones to have a parent who had been a former teacher and worked with me to catch me up. My mother was my cheerleader and biggest support. I decided many years ago I would be the “cheerleader and difference” in the lives of children who were not as lucky as I.

Q. What age group of kids have you always wanted to teach? What grade do you teach now?

A. I have always enjoyed the younger children. So much so that I got an emphasis in early childhood so I would be certified from birth to sixth grade. Before college I had worked with preschool-first grade mostly through church events and VBS. During college I worked at the on campus daycare center with four year olds and loved every minute of it. I student taught in second grade and surprisingly loved it just as much as my four year olds. I teach second grade now, and I know it’s right where I need to be. They are still sweet, mostly independent, and shorter than me.

Q. Were you excited when you found out you got the job here at Thayer?

A. To be honest, I probably sounded like I had just inhaled helium from a balloon. My voice was so high and squeaky with excitement and unbelief. After hanging up the phone, I did a little happy dance and then ran around my house with my fist in the air like superman. I’m not really sure what brought on the superman run, but I nailed it.

Q. Have you held a teaching job anywhere before here?

A. No, only a long term substitute position at the school I student taught at.

Q. How would you compare Thayer schools to others that you have been affiliated with?

There is something so unifying and special about this school. It is rooted in history and family tradition. I haven’t seen that anywhere else.”

— Juliann Whitaker

Q. Would you like to teach at Thayer for a long time?

A. If given the opportunity, yes I believe I would!

Q. Was there a specific teacher that you have had that had a significant impact on your life?

A. I actually had two teachers in my life who had an enormous impact on my life, Miss Lowen and Mr. Nichols. Miss Lowen was a Mennonite from Brazil who I had in third and fourth grade. (We usually had two or three grades per teacher) This amazing woman never seemed to stop smiling and encouraging me. She was an older woman and always played with us at recess even though she knew she was an easy target. She taught me a little bit of Portuguese and how to write to the best of my ability. Everything I did in school was to make her proud.

In sixth, seventh, and eighth grade I had Mr. Nichol, also a Mennonite. He was always thinking of off  the wall activities and had an incredible way of explaining things. He had such a passion and joy for teaching that made all of us students excited and hungry for more. We invented new games and tried them out, created our own government within the classroom, made and sent off a hot air balloon. We also got to put our geometry to the test and create a tree swing which we used for years afterwards. I could go on and on about both teachers, but I’ll end by saying I hope I am able to be half of the teacher to my students that they were to me.

Q. What is the most important goal you have for your kids this year?

A. The most important goal I have for my students and myself this year is to do and be the best ‘you’ possible. The test scores don’t matter as much as the effort behind it. The friendships they have don’t matter as much as the characters beneath them. And the memories they make don’t matter as much as the feelings they leave with.

Q. Does being a graduate from Thayer make this job more meaningful?

A.  Absolutely! My grandmother was a teacher at Thayer for many years and hearing people compare me to her is a sweet compliment. Many teachers here had her in third grade and they still remember and speak of her kindness. My mother graduated from Thayer as well,  and I am blessed to have some of her classmate’s grandchildren in class. Even though I didn’t grow up here, I still feel as welcomed and loved as ever by this school and community.

Q. What advice would you give students who are looking to go into the teaching profession like you?

A. If you don’t have a passion and love for kids, this profession is not for you. You will be faced with more decisions, challenges, and hours than you thought you were signing up for. You will wear more hats than just that of a teacher. You become mom/dad for some children. For others you are a cheerleader, nurse, counselor, judge, friend, protector or provider. It is not easy, but it definitely worth it! I am able to help shape the next generation, and I honestly believe teaching is the greatest profession. After all, it is the only profession that teaches all other professions.

We would like to give a very special thanks to Ms. Whitaker for answering all of our questions and being so easygoing with us throughout the process. We are excited to have vibrant young teachers coming back to teach here at Thayer Schools. Thayer always seems to hire the best teachers, and this addition looks like another great one.

 

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