Teachers are the most in-school influence on student achievement. It’s the teachers who remain intellectually curious and make a difference in a student’s life — both inside and outside of the classroom.
These teachers avoid stagnation at all costs and maintain an enviable passion for children and the learning process. They remain vivid in the student’s memories forever because of their creativity, sense of fun, and compassion.
The fourth-grade team, which consists of Ashley Carmichael, Kathi Lloyd-Murray, and Christina Parris at the Mary Mcleod Bethune School at 3301 Old York Road, are a group of teachers that fits that mold.
Carmichael is entering her first year at Bethune. After previously being a teacher at a charter school, she said she was excited about her new journey at Bethune and the growth she will have as a teacher. She teaches math.
“When I was a teacher at other places, I was very stagnant and wasn’t able to grow at the level that I believe I could grow as a teacher,” Carmichael said. “One of the things that I love about this school is the opportunity to grow and have that opportunity.
“One thing that principal Bradley did to allow me to grow is for us to have a fourth-grade coach. She coached us on specific things and I feel as though that was a very good step in my growth as a teacher. It’s been amazing.
“As far as my math class, we started with place value and we’re in multiplication now,” she added. “They’re going into division and at the end of the year we will be doing fractions and geometry. I want my students to be lifelong learners. I don’t want them just to be learning for academics, but I’m trying to teach and prepare them for the real world.”
Lloyd-Murray, who teaches science and social studies, has been a teacher at Bethune for the last two years.
“This year in science, we’re going to focus on land and water as well as matter,” Lloyd-Murray said. “At the end, we will get into some organism of plants and animals. For social studies, we really focus on geography, so understanding maps, but also with a heavy focus on Pennsylvania, specifically Philadelphia.
“In my class, students also doing a lot of writing about science and social studies. We also do some hands-on activities, but it depends on the day. We were recently playing in soil. Even with those kinds of activities, I always bring it back to writing so that the students can actually write about what they’re learning.
“A lot of times Black and brown students just don’t get a lot of exposure to science, which is really unfortunate,” she added. “I try to make sure that I show can show them and teach them as many things as possible so that they can get that exposure. I ultimately want my students to not only have a love for science, but to also be good citizens.”
Like Murray, Parris has also been a teacher at Bethune for two years. She teaches English language arts.
“The students are learning main idea,” Parris said. “Knowing how to make inferences with a text theme is a very big umbrella. We’re learning character trait, how to summarize, and most of all how to articulate what they’re thinking and writing. I do a lot of PowerPoints; I’m a very interactive teacher.
“There’s a lot of individual work because I need to be able to assess them as their teacher, but we also do a lot of partner work. There’s a lot of classroom discussions. We also break into small groups where they’re either working on the computer or I’ll have a small group.
“What I always want all of my students to take away from being with me is that whatever they have is already inside them,” she added. “I like stepping away from the curriculum because it allows me a chance to let my students know that they are important. They may not be great at this one thing it school, but there is something that they’re great at. One of the beautiful things about being a teacher is that I’m able to pull that out them. I’m able to help them find that special thing about them.