Photo from Liz Fearer
Every month at Kempsville, the Student Cooperative Association (SCA) releases a poll for students to select either one or two teachers who show awe-inspiring performances in and out of the classroom. For the month of January, Ms. Sarah Marks, a health and physical education teacher, and Ms. Kelly Swanner-Duran, a mathematics teacher, both earned teacher of the month.
Marks has taught for a total of 13 years and began her teaching career by attending Longwood University. She was originally certified to teach kindergarten through fifth grade.
“Not exactly my jam. Then I got certified at Old Dominion University to be a special education teacher,” Marks said. “I then went back to school to take my Praxis in order to get certified in teaching health and physical education, which is what I love to teach. I also wanted to be on the same schedule as my children when I had kids and wanted to be actively involved in their lives. I feel as if my parents were not the most understanding adults in my life when I was going through my teenage years and as if there is a select amount of adults that get what teenagers used to be like so…I like kids and teenagers more than adults for the most part.”
Given the opportunity to benefit Kempsville, she would focus on more social-emotional health.
“As a gym teacher, I would want more accessibility to more space for certain activities like yoga and meditation, but mainly I think just making staff members and students more aware of social-emotional health; paired along with giving them the tools to do so… be [it] through fitness classes, meditation, or giving them goals. Probably within the manner of self-care.”
Even as Marks is grateful for the title Teacher of the Month, she says: “I still do my own thing whether it is recognized or not. Eventually, it will … alter someone in a positive manner whether or not it receives recognition.”
As many teachers hope to accomplish different goals throughout their career, Marks hopes to make connections and bonds between the students, as well as the other teachers and staff.
“I think relationships are the number one thing,” Marks said. “Just to impact a kid’s life, rather… to make a change, rather… to love them when somebody does not, or to make that connection. I mean, aren’t we all here to impact somebody?”
“It sounds cliche, but if you are not having fun, you are not doing it right. Whether you are learning or teaching, if you are not enjoying it, then nobody else is going to either. Life is a party.”
SCA’s polls for Teacher of the Month are available on their Twitter. Their most recent poll, for February, is for a teacher from the science department.