In 2012, Lowrey Elementary School honored three teachers in different classroom grades as Teachers of the Year: Ella Proctor, Karla Kelley and Jennifer Swafford.
A decade ago, Swafford started her career teaching math at Lowrey.
“I enjoy teaching because of the interaction I have with the students,” Swafford said. “They make my job interesting and different every day.”
Working with students has unexpected moments at times; as most people know, kids can say anything.
“I have to admit that sometimes, I learn things from them, and I never know what that might be,” she said.
A desire to take away the fear of math motivated her to want to teach the often-challenging subject.
“I became a math teacher because I wanted to make math understandable for my students,” Swafford explained. “I have always found math not to be too difficult, and I wanted to be able to pass that along to my students so they could understand it and make it as easy for them as possible.”
The extended family aspect of rural schools is a perk new teachers sometimes don’t expect.
“It is great to teach at Lowrey, because we are like a family and we work very well together,” she said.
Being selected Teacher of the Year is always a pleasant surprise.
“When I found out I was chosen as a Teacher of the Year, I was humbled and honored,” Swafford said.
She offers words of encouragement to new teachers.
“My advice for new teachers would be to have fun with what you do, because students pick up on how you feel,” she said. “If you’re having fun, so will they. I would also encourage new teachers to be diversified in what they can teach, because it never hurts to be able to teach different subjects.”
Kelley teaches third grade at Lowrey, where she’s been employed 17 years. Her first 10 years she taught at Grand View Elementary.
“I’ve always loved kids,” Kelley said. “And [I enjoy] being a part of the kids’ learning success as they grow from the beginning of school to the year to the end of the school year.”
Kelley is a graduate of Northeastern State University.
When she found out she’d been chosen as a Teacher of the Year, she was excited and honored.
“All the teachers at Lowrey work hard all year long, and I feel they all deserve to receive the award,” she said.
She really appreciates her peers.
“The faculty, staff, and support personnel are very tight-knit,” she said. “We help each other out whenever needed.”
Kelley thinks Lowrey is a great school.
“Lowrey is the perfect size [for a] school,” she said. “The classroom student ratio is perfect in size, and you have more time to work one-on-one with students.”
Proctor was unable to sit for an interview due to a death in the family.
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