This week’s feature for Teacher of the Year is Anita Owens, a kindergarten teacher at West Elementary School.
Owens is in her 11th year teaching. She previously taught in Smith County for six years before coming to West, where she has been for the last five years.
Owens has two children who also attend West. She originally was a room mom for her daughter’s class. When that teacher left, Owens stepped in to fill the role.
Owens attended Tennessee Technological University, receiving her bachelor’s, master’s and EDS degrees. As a grad student, she supervised student teachers. She found this helpful as an educator because she was able to observe other teachers.
Owens always wanted to be a teacher and especially work with kindergarten. She said she had dreamed of her own kids playing in her room after school. What started as her love for working with children has evolved over the years into a love of watching them learn.
“I love teaching reading because most kids go from not being able to sound out words to reading small books and trying to read everything they see in their environment,” she said. She enjoys watching them figure out the world through reading.
“I think that the hardest part about kindergarten is balancing the fun with the learning,” she said. “They are still so young.”
Teaching first grade at her previous school helped her know more of what her kindergarten students needed to know for the next level.
“Kids in Wilson County are so smart, they really are,” she said. “There’s a lot of parent support in Wilson County.”
The support from parents means the world to her because she couldn’t teach the students how she needs without the parents continuing the education at home.
West has grown a lot, even since she has been at the school. The number of kindergarten teachers has nearly doubled in the last six years.
She really enjoys her team at West, the support and friendship they provide.
“I think we all bring different strengths to the table,” she said. “We all teach in lots of different ways.”
Being able to work with a team of other kindergarten teachers allows them to work together, collaborate with and bounce ideas off of each other.
Owens said West is an amazing school with the best administrators who encourage their teachers to first and foremost love their students.
“It’s not just about test scores,” she said. “They want our teacher to learn and grow, but they do see the bigger picture that there are kids that, even before we can teach them, we have to love them.”
Owens said she was truly honored and surprised at being chosen West’s Teacher of the Year. Being given that honor makes all of her hard work, the long nights planning and working late, very appreciated.
“I’m honored and humbled, and proud to represent West,” she said. “West is Best.”