Shelia See was done. She had put in over thirty years of teaching, twenty-nine of them at Baldwin County, teaching students from kindergarten through fifth grade at various times, but devoting the majority of her time to kindergarten because she felt most drawn to the smaller children.
“When I was young, I always just loved babies and little kids. Anytime I was around one I wanted to hold them.” See had planned on going into pediatric nursing, but it was her grandmother who finally convinced her to go into teaching, “you always have children on your hip. You love children, so you should be a teacher,” her grandmother said, and See said, “That’s exactly what I should do!”
So that was exactly what she did, teaching first in her hometown of Dublin, and then in Hancock County, but it was always her plan to come to Baldwin. It was a crazy, raucous thirty years of continual knowledge and growth. No day was ever the same. She would always tell herself that the moment she thought she knew what to expect was the moment she would go home. And after over a quarter of a century, she thought she’d finally come to that. It was time for See to settle down, retire, and relax. Until it wasn’t.
"I feel like instead of having one whole class for the year, I get to touch so many more children’s lives because I get the entire kindergarten grade level. I get the opportunity to know all of them!"
The year that Shelia See began to prepare for her retirement coincided with a year of remarkable growth for Midway Hills Primary. It was the year that they opened up the EIP (Early Intervention Program) to every grade level in the school rather than only having one for the entire school. This meant that there was a need for a new EIP kindergarten teacher. This didn’t only play to See’s core strength of dealing with younger children, but to her vast amount of experience. Those who knew and worked with her told her that she should apply for the position.
“To be honest,” See said, “it didn’t really cross my mind… but it kept coming back to me. Honestly, I feel like God put this position right in my face, because it just kept popping up, on and on. So I applied for it. And I got it. And now this is right where I need to be at this point in my life, so I can just help focus on the specific needs of these children.”
See was only in the position for one year before she won the school-wide Teacher of the Year award. It was her first time ever winning such a distinction. She credits her years of experience with learning how best to assess and address the special academic needs of kindergarteners to her extraordinary success within the Early Intervention Program.
Now, instead of working with full classrooms, See assesses data points to find out where those children most in need of support are and she pulls those kids out for a much smaller and more focused study time with her.
“If they don’t know their alphabet, for instance, I can really concentrate on just helping them to identify, name, and write the letters. Whereas in the regular classroom, teachers may need to move on in order to cover other standards that need to be taught.” When she’s done, those children go back to their normal classroom and See will pull another group out for either ELA or Math.
The children love this model, and look forward to their special time together with her as much as she looks forward to meeting with them. And now See never knows what to expect from her students again. “Having taught so many years in kindergarten, I know it like the back of my hand,” See said, “so now, I feel like instead of having one whole class for the year, I get to touch so many more children’s lives because I get the entire kindergarten grade level. I get the opportunity to know all of them!” Suddenly, after thirty plus years, the whole teaching experience is new again, and now the last thing on See’s mind is retirement.