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Eidson selected as Valley's Teacher of the Year
 
 Misty Eidson works with her students at Mustang Valley Elementary. She was chosen as the site's 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year. She will compete with 13 other Teachers of the Year for the title of District Teacher of the Year.


Misty Eidson, Teacher of the Year for Valley Elementary, said there was no epiphany when she suddenly realized she wanted to be a teacher. It was never a question. From her earliest memories, the knowledge that she would be a teacher was part of her.

Eidson is in her third year of teaching with Mustang and her seventh year altogether.
"I love how it is unpredictable and the excitement of it. I love watching them run through the door every morning, ready to learn. They're hungry and thirsty for learning," she said. "And in what other career do you get to have such a pivotal part of other people's lives?"

She taught in a low income school at the beginning of her career where she worried if her students had enough to eat. She knew others had no positive role models at home.

"Some of these babies have no influence at home or through coaches," she said. "They need at least one adult to remember when they get older who was a positive influence. My goal every year is to affect at least one of them."

Eidson's first year teaching third grade was the first year of the Reading Sufficiency Act. Its purpose was to ban social promotion, where students are promoted based on age instead of academic ability. The law required schools to retain students who scored unsatisfactory on a reading test and who did not meet specific exemptions by the end of the third grade. The rationale is that until the third grade, students are learning to read. After the third grade, they're reading to learn. The law has been modified so that retention of students is no longer automatic but left up to a committee. Next year, however, the bar will be raised and students scoring "limited knowledge" could also be candidates for retention.

Eidson's students know about the test long before they get to her classroom.

"They've heard about it for years. There's so much anxiety," she said. "And the parents get nervous about it. It's my goal to make it where it's not the dreaded year."

Test prep is something they have to do every day, but Eidson said it's just a sliver of their class time. She prefers her students learn through experience instead of bubbling in answers.
The first year of RSA, one little third grader sat in her desk sobbing as the reading test was about to begin. Test monitors aren't allowed to say anything not prescribed or the test is void. All Eidson could do was put her arm around the child while she cried. She tells her students in the days before the test to remember: if she's smiles at them, everything is all right because that's how it's been all year long. They're in a safe, comfortable place, the same safe place they've been since August.

"It breaks your heart," she said. "I understand testing but they're babies. I tell my kids every day that I love them. I tell them no matter what happens on this test, you're still my kiddos no matter what."

Although The Test has added new dimensions to teaching, reading remains her favorite subject to teach.

"I love it when you're able to experience kids falling in love with reading," she said. "My goal is always, reading is not something they're forced to do every night but something they want to do every night."

Eidson believes she's found a home in third grade.

"I don't think I would leave third grade now unless they made me," she said.

She also doesn't plan to leave Valley Elementary.

"I was excited to be named Teacher of the Year but I also don't feel worthy," she said. "Valley has so many other phenomenal teachers. You go down the hall and think, 'They're just as good.' I've never taught in a place like Valley before. It's a family. The community here is just phenomenal. When we go visit other schools, we always come back and say, 'There's no place like Valley.'"
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