Bella Vista Elementary teacher Melissa Romero helps kindergartner Elizabeth Brown in the computer lab Wednesday at the school. This week marks Teacher Appreciation Week throughout the country. Tuesday was National Teacher Day. CNJ photo: Eric Kluth.
By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer
This week marks Teacher Appreciation Week throughout the country and Tuesday was National Teacher Day.
The Clovis New Journal chose two teachers at random to discuss their views about the teaching profession.
Young by teaching standards, 27-year-old Joe Clabaugh is in his third year as a ninth-grade communications and seventh-grade English teacher at Marshall Junior High.
The 2001 Eastern New Mexico University graduate was born in Oklahoma City. Just out of college, Clabaugh said he had heard the stories about teaching junior high students, but ignored them.
“You can see kids come in here and they are so petrified and so terrified to be here then you see them progress,” he said. “I have one kid that came in as a seventh-grader and he was not the best kid behavior wise but I have seen him change and now I have him as a ninth-grader and he is the most wonderful kid.”
As a sophomore at Mustang High School in Oklahoma, Clabaugh said one of his teachers made him realize he wanted to go into the profession.
“He made teaching fun and learning fun and the things he did with us — his teaching skills were really important to me,” he said. “I want to be a teacher to where people want to come and be in my classroom.”
Clabaugh said as a whole, New Mexico teachers are well qualified. As a young teacher, learning from other teachers was important.
“If you have a group of teachers that are around you and want to help you then I think you are going to be a successful teacher starting out,” he said.
Clabaugh’s said he loves his job at Marshall and has no regrets about entering the teaching profession at the junior high level. His teaching philosophy is about equality.
“Create an environment that would be fun for kids but at the same time create a safe environment for the kids and an environment where every kid is able to have the same attention as anybody else,” he said. “Kids, they learn just like we learn everyday. We’re all human and I feel like the future is in very good hands.”
Teaching kindergarten students is exhausting.“You’re a nurse, you’re a mom, you’re a teacher. There is a so much on your table you don’t know if you can do it,” said Bella Vista kindergarten teacher Melissa Romero.
The Clovis High School and 1992 graduate of ENMU is in her 11th year as a teacher. Her career began at the old Lincoln-Jackson Elementary before moving to Bella Vista in 2001.
In her third year as teacher, she said a student raised their hand and told her she was standing on something. It was a centipede wider than her shoe.
“I will never forget that, I just screamed,” she said.
Since then she said her experience has taught her to challenge her students. Her expectations are higher, she said.
Romero said she has confidence the next generation of children are going to be successful.
“I think the media does portray our youth to be robbers or thieves but for the most part we have some kids with big hearts who want to be successful in school,” she said. “Of course you have those kids that want to act out a little bit and want the attention, but I think deep down they want to do what is right.”
Family involvement in education has been an emphasis for her. Her philosophy is that all children can be successful.
“I think every child regardless of their background or socioeconomic status — if we can give them that attention that they need they can all learn,” she said. “I have seen them come in with very little skills and with a little help they blossom.
“That is the exciting part about kindergarten.”