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As we near the end of this school year, we asked first year teacher, Ms. Laura Corder, to reflect on and share about: What went well? What areas will you look to improve moving into year 2?Is there anyone you want to recognize that helped you “make it through” year 1? This is Laura’s response:

As I reflect back on my first year as a teacher at Pea Ridge, I am reminded just how lucky and blessed I am to not only be in one of the top counties teaching my first year, but in one of the top schools as well!!! What an honor! I have been so blessed to be a part of the Pea Ridge Elementary family. The entire school has welcomed me with open arms and encouraging words starting from the moment I arrived this past August. I was hired as a kindergarten teacher one week before school started. Needless to say I was beyond thrilled, but also overwhelmed to get a classroom setup and ready for students in only one week! I had many family members, including my Mom, who had just retired after 38 years of teaching ESE in Okaloosa, and fellow grade level friends help me setup my classroom and lend a hand for countless hours. Ultimately, I realized the picture-perfect room wasn’t the most important thing but rather what I would be teaching those Kinders throughout the year. I believe because of what the Teacher Ready Program taught me, I was fully ready to begin my very first year teaching.

TR Laura Davis

I have learned so many things throughout my first year and have had so many rewarding moments! One of the best parts about this first year is watching such an unbelievable growth take place with these kindergarteners. I had many students come into school from various backgrounds: some from formal preschools and others with no previous schooling at all. It is so neat to watch these students grow leaps and bounds over the course of a year.

This year I have learned how important it is to meet every student where he or she is, providing differentiated instruction, and being attentive to all my students’ needs. By offering various learning styles throughout my instruction time, I have ultimately seen my students successfully climb the learning ladder.

My sweet Kinders are VERY competitive, so this year I created a popcorn word board to track the sight words they know. Every time a student learns 10 sight words, they receive a popcorn kernel in their bucket. Our goal is to have 12 popcorn kernels (120 words) filled up by the end of kindergarten. Every Friday we test to see how many popcorn kernels each student is able to put into his or her bucket. I am so excited to share that almost half of my students have already earned all 12 of their kernels by mid-February!!!! To keep the competition and the motivation going, these students will now have to spell each set of 10 words during our sight word tests. This has been such a rewarding tracking progress for my kindergarteners. Students know the more words they learn, the better readers they will become. Watching this reading progress over the year has been the best part about being a kindergarten teacher by far!

I am still learning so many things and am so excited to continue learning every day throughout my teaching career. One thing I would like to improve upon is to increase my collaboration with my peers. I would love to pop in to more classrooms during my planning periods and learn new techniques and teaching styles from many other teachers and grade levels.

I have so many people to thank for making my first year such a successful one. My grade level at Pea Ridge has been the most supportive, amazing part about this new first year adventure. We all work together as a team and share so many resources and ideas and genuinely look after every member of the team. I believe I am successful because of the amazing team I am surrounded with. I also have such a supportive administrative team. A big thank you to our principal Mrs. Fleming and Assistant Principal Mrs. Dwiggins for believing in me and allowing me to be a part of the Pea Ridge family. I also could not have made it through my first year without the best mentors ever. Mrs. Mertins and Mrs. Clark have helped me along this journey every single day. They have answered a million and one questions from me and have helped me to become the teacher I am today. Finally, I cannot say enough AMAZING things about the Teacher Ready Program. The program is the best out there for anyone looking to change their careers and prepare to become a teacher. Thank you, Teacher Ready for making my first year such a successful one, and I am confident that there will be many more to come.




Many, many thanks to Ms. Laura Corder, Pea Ridge Elementary, for sharing her experience with readers of What’s Right. We thank her for choosing to teach and working to create a classroom full of engaged learners. Learn more about Laura’s school and the great things happening there at https://www.santarosa.k12.fl.us/pre/.

TeacherReady is state approved and is the Educator Preparation Institute of the NCATE accredited Professional Education Unit at the University of West Florida. Upon completion of TeacherReady, individuals earn a professional teaching certificate from the State of Florida. Visit the TeacherReady website or connect with them on Facebook for more information.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.