IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN. THE TEMPERATURES ARE SOARING, PARENTS ARE HUNTING FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL BARGAINS, AND KIDS ARE CONTINUALLY CHECKING THE MAIL TO FIND OUT WHICH TEACHER THEY WILL HAVE FOR THE UPCOMING SCHOOL YEAR. ONE HOUSEHOLD IN LOUDOUN KNOWS MORE ABOUT THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES SCHOOL ACTION THAN MOST. STEPHEN, ORIGINALLY FROM BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA, AND HIS WIFE KADIE, OF MORGANTOWN WEST VIRGINIA, LIVE IN LEESBURG AND BOTH WORK FOR THE LOUDOUN COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. STEPHEN TEACHES FIFTH GRADE AT HORIZON ELEMENTARY, AND KADIE IS THE LIBRARIAN AT STEUART WELLER. BOTH HAVE TAUGHT MULTIPLE ELEMENTARY GRADES OVER THE COURSE OF THEIR CAREERS AND ARE THE PROUD PARENTS OF TWO BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS, ELLA AGED SEVEN AND SADIE AGED FOUR. THEY TOOK A FEW MOMENTS OUT OF THEIR BUSY SCHEDULES TO CHAT ABOUT LIFE INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM.
KJ: I knew at a very young age that I wanted to work with children. I changed my mind a few times along the way, but, in the end, teaching was a perfect fit.
SJ: I had a fantastic education at Padua College, run by the Franciscan Order, in Australia. My dad, uncle, three brothers, five cousins, and nephew, all attended Padua. It was towards the end of high school that I decided to pursue a career in education, and I have never looked back. Teaching has allowed me to work in Australia and in Edinburgh, Scotland, before finally landing in Loudoun County.
KJ: Absolutely! I now realize how busy evenings are and how important it is to spend quality time with your kids and not push them to complete more work. Before I had kids, I put much more emphasis on homework.
SJ: I have always been firm but fair with my classroom, and I have that same approach with my own children. Also, if being a teacher for 22 years makes you understand one thing, it’s that patience is a virtue!
KJ: During the week, we are very scheduled in our activities. Bedtimes have to be on time on school nights in order for the morning to be a success because we leave so early. We also make sure that each evening we have 20 minutes of time together to read and reflect on our day. Weekends and holidays are when we let those routines go by the way side.
SJ: I think we are both very organized and realize the importance of a set structure to help things run smoothly. One thing which was non-negotiable was reading to the kids every night.
KJ: One of my most memorable students now works at my youngest daughters’ daycare and cares for my own child. It’s crazy when things come full circle! Watching your students go on to succeed years after you’ve taught them is such a blessing.
SJ: My first students from Australia are all now in their 30’s, with kids of their own. Many have tracked me down on Facebook and have posted some great photos that always bring back fond memories. It’s wonderful to see them succeeding in their own lives and watching their diverse careers unfold.
KJ: On my first day of teaching, I sent more than half my class home on the wrong busses. I thought that the bus they came to school on would of course be the same bus they went home on. I was very wrong!
SJ: I think the worst thing that can happen on the first day is a technical issue because teachers now utilize so much technology in their lesson plans. However, it’s really a first world problem. You can always go back to the old ‘chalk and talk’ methods!
KJ: Read to your kids. Read to your kids. Read to your kids. Even if they are independent readers, take the time to read together!
SJ: Relax and enjoy the familiarity of elementary school and the fact that the teacher gets to know your child so well. Time flies, and they will be headed to middle school before you know it.