When it was time for Valley Elementary third grade teacher Molly Long to enroll in college, she flipped through the Oklahoma Baptist University college catalogues, glancing at the degree options. It was a perfunctory gesture. There was only one degree option for her, and had been only one since she was a child. Long, who was named Mustang Valley Elementary’s Teacher of the Year for 2017-2018, was called to teach.
Long played “school” with her younger siblings and in each class of third graders, she finds a student or two like herself.
“You can tell in the classroom,” she said. “They love the school stuff. They ask,’ Where did you get that?’ ‘Where did that poster com from?’ Where did you get that calendar?’ One little girl’s favorite store is Lakeshore, a store of education products.”
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Long got her start in the Oklahoma City district before moving to Mustang. She’s in her sixth year, each one in third grade.
“I like that the kids are independent and they’re sweet,” she said. “They’re starting to get their sense of humor and they’re developing into their personality. I love it.”
first year of teaching was not she was envisioned.
“There are things they can’t prepare you for in college that they can’t put into a class, like classroom management,” she said. “That first year, I cried every single day after school. It was a very rough class with a lot of behavioral issues. I thought it was me. I thought I was doing it all wrong. They (colleagues) said if you can make it through this year, you can teach anything. In that moment, I didn’t think I could go another day, but they were right, I made it.”
two years, Long moved to Mustang. She enjoys the continuity of the district
where teachers typically finish May with the same students they had in August.
math is her favorite. She infuses the lessons with hands-on activities. Her
goal is to teach them to love it.
“It’s easy to make it hands-on,” she said. “I love to break it down where they can understand it. I love to teach multiplication. They’re always so excited about it.”
has one student who struggles with reading, but excels with math.
“He’s a very bright math student,” she said. “Just to see the light come on with him when there is something he does understand in reading because he knows its hard for him. But to see him build his confidence through the math side of things is awesome. He’s becoming more confident in himself and his reading skills.”
said there is so much more to teaching than anyone knows before they are
assigned their own class.
“We are not only teachers to them but we have to make sure they have enough for lunch. I make sure they have a snack. I help them tie their shoes. It’s not just making sure they can add, subtract and multiply but helping them to grow into adults who can socialize and work with other people as well. There is so much more to it than just fun activities. It’s hard. You pour everything into them and they finally get it. Sometimes it’s helping them make a friend - that may be what’s difficult for them. Just seeing them be successful is what keeps me here.”
is one of 14 site Teachers of the Year for Mustang Public Schools. The District
Teacher of the Year will be announced in March.