July 22, 2019
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
A year removed from beginning their careers as educators, a trio of teachers from Rutherford County Schools spoke to more than 100 first-year teachers on the cusp of stepping into their own classrooms for the first time.
All three spoke at the annual ASSIST conference stressed the importance of fostering relationships with everyone from students and colleagues as well as parents and personal relationships.
Rutherford County Schools offers the ASSIST conference annually. The event partners veteran teachers and instructional leaders with newer teachers to help them be more effective in the classroom.
Olivia Williams, a seventh-grade English language arts teacher at Smyrna Middle School, told Rutherford County’s newcomers to put students at the top of their priority list.
“This will make a world of difference with classroom management and structure,” Williams explained. “If they see you care about them, they will care about you.”
Taylor Peck told the group to be genuine.
Peck is about to begin his second-year as a social studies teacher at LaVergne Middle.
“Enjoy your influence,” said Peck, who made a point of emphasizing there will be students whose teachers will become the most important people in their lives. “You have the capability to change lives and that really spoke to me.”
That said, Williams told the audience that she found Rutherford County offers a great support system and not to be afraid to use it.
Peck added, “Take advice … but morph it into your own version of it.”
Rutherford County Schools is one of the only districts in Tennessee that offers an entire ASSIST-like conference for new-hires.
ASSIST, which took place Monday at Siegel Middle School, will be followed up on Tuesday and Wednesday with the RCS Summer Conference in which more than 1,000 teachers will meet with local, state, regional and national education experts.
Tuesday’s keynote speaker is Kim Bearden, co-founder of the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta.
PHOTOS / KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT