Marcy Calvert, Mustang Trails Elementary 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year, knew when she was a girl that she would be a teacher. Her mother taught vacation Bible school and Calvert helped every year.
“I loved it,” she said. “I loved everything about it. I loved helping her organize the activities and helping the kids with their crafts. My favorite was that we did a lot of music with movement and activities.”
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After high school, she put off college to have a family, enrolling at the University of Central Oklahoma when her own children were 2 and 5-years-old.
In all, she’s been in an elementary classroom for 19 years, nine of those at Mustang. She taught first grade, but fell in love with kindergarten and pre-kindergarten.
“I just love the little kids,” she said. “I love the singing, the motions with the songs. I love this age. I love getting to bring stuff for them and I get to do that year after year. Every year I have a new audience.”
Calvert explores her own eight acres when she’s home, collecting turtle shells, abandoned birds nests, pine cones and perhaps a snake skin to share with the class.
“They’re 5 and 6,” she said. “They love it.”
Every grade level has challenges, but the chasm between the skill levels of each individual child can be especially wide in kindergarten. Students who don’t go to pre-kindergarten often start behind their kindergarten classmates without the ability to tell letters from numbers. Other students walk in the door the first day knowing how to read.
“I have to have a climate of mutual respect so that the kids will feel safe to take a risk,” she said. “Some of them don’t know that they don’t know. That’s where Great Expectations comes in. We don’t laugh at other’s mistakes. No one is going to laugh if a child answers a question incorrectly.”
Founded in Oklahoma in 1991, Great Expectations is a teaching and training model available to teachers across the state. It is guided by six basic principles, including having high expectations of students; boosting teacher attitude and sense of responsibility; the belief that all children can learn; building self esteem; fostering a climate of mutual respect; and increasing teacher knowledge and skill.
Calvert said she has as much fun coming to school as the kids.
“I just love teaching. I honestly do. It’s so hard right now, higher class sizes, buying my own supplies. But I wouldn’t trade it,” she said. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
Besides building the foundation to carry them through elementary school, Calvert wants to forge relationships. Whether its a student who can’t stand for an insect to be stepped on to the little boy whose mother is in jail, who is angry and sometimes violent, Calvert stressed the importance of trust and love.
“Each year they come to you with different backgrounds and needs,” she said. “When they leave my class, I want them to reach their full potential as a student, but my thing is, if they know I love them and cared about them, then I have done my job.”
Calvert is one of 14 site Teachers of the Year for Mustang Public Schools. The Mustang Public Schools District Teacher of the Year will be named at a special banquet in March.