By Charlotte Underwood
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Teachers make a difference in their students lives each and every day. For many students, having a teacher who cares and goes that extra mile can be the difference in a successful education and graduation. We’ve all had that teacher who inspired us or helped in some way. That’s why WLAF and Eagle Tire Pros salute all of our hard working educators with a weekly feature.
This week’s featured teacher is Bridget Wallace, and she was born and raised right here in La Follette. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2007 with a Master’s in Elementary Education. During that time, Wallace completed one year of student teaching at Brickey-McCloud Elementary School in 2nd grade with some “amazing mentor teachers and principals and was blessed to land a 2nd grade teaching position at the very same school after graduation.”
“I taught 2nd grade there for six years, but after marrying my high school sweetheart and having children, I returned “home” to teach and be closer to my family,” Wallace said.
She currently teaches 3rd Grade English Language Arts at Valley View Elementary School with an “amazing team of teachers and principals.”
She actually attended Valley View Elementary as a child, and said her “Bobcat pride runs pretty strong!”
Wallace is in her 15th year as an educator. Even when she was young, she said she just “knew” she wanted to teach; she also comes from a long line of educators that also influenced her career choice.
“From a very young age, I think I knew I wanted to teach young children. I look back on my first-grade teacher at Valley View, Janice Craig. She just had a special way of making learning and learning to read fun. I also come from a family of educators. My papaw Arlis Chapman invested over 40 years into the education system and my dad was a high school teacher for 30 years. I think being surrounded by educators also influenced my decision to be a teacher,” Wallace said.
Her favorite part of teaching is multi-faceted.
“First of all, I feel like I have the privilege and opportunity of opening up new worlds to my students on a daily basis, and they’re still young enough to be excited about it! I love that I can find ways to get on their personal level to reach them and help them learn a new concept and discover their strengths. When a kid goes from saying “I can’t” to saying, “I can!” THAT is what makes it all worthwhile. When their minds are being challenged and an “A-ha!” moment sets in, it’s a great feeling to know I helped guide them to that point,” Wallace said.
One of the most rewarding parts for her is when a former student comes back to visit after several years, or sends a letter, message, or high school graduation invite.
“It’s humbling to know I have played a small part in their journey. I enjoy the “I love Yous,” the hugs, the hand-written notes from my kids. Or that message from time to time from a parent saying that their kid has changed their outlook on school and/or reading. Those are also some of my favorite parts of my job,” Wallace said.
Even on hard and challenging days, Wallace said she can always find something good in every day, even if it’s small.
She and her coworkers always try to remind each other to look for and celebrate those “bright spots.”
“They are definitely there. I try to remind myself that even on my worst day, I may still be the best thing and that “bright spot” to some of these students. Today, more so than ever, school is the only safe haven that some of these children have, and I get to be there to love them and make sure they know that I am there for them and believe in them! My motto is to always love them first and teach them second.”
Every Thursday, WLAF’s Charlotte Underwood features the WLAF – Eagle Tire Pros teacher of the week. That educator also receives a free oil change from Eagle Tire Pros. To nominate a teacher for teacher of the week honors, please send your nomination to email@example.com (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/03/2022-6AM)