COOKEVILLE – Establishing the groundwork and providing the necessary tools and resources for children may seem intimidating, but for Emily Rose Clark, pre-k teacher at Jere Whitson Elementary, it’s an exciting adventure that allows her to be a role model and a helper.
Clark graduated from Tennessee Tech University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. However, she always knew she had a passion for teaching. Clark’s mom gave her the opportunities that allowed her to become a teacher in many ways throughout her childhood.
“My mom allowed me to be a teacher at a very young age in an informal environment, and I felt comfortable and natural. I just felt that at my core, that was a defining characteristic of who I was,” she said. “Then moving forward into adulthood and in my time at Tennessee Tech, that opportunity just solidified my drive to be a teacher. It was there my whole life. I arrived at Tech, and it was like a breath of fresh air. I am right where I need to be.”
During her time in Tech’s College of Education, the upper-division professors taught her the necessary tools that would allow her to be successful in the classroom. In addition, they shared what would be expected of her and her classmates once they got into an actual classroom setting.
“They shared their passion for education with us in a very transparent way. I never worried that I wouldn’t feel the same way as they did. We walked out of our classes with the energy we needed to pursue more education, to then finally have the opportunity to be in a classroom of our own. They would always say at the end of our classes, ‘if you’re worried about being a good teacher, that’s evidence that you already are,’” she said.
When Clark was deciding how she wanted her classroom to feel, she took the feeling of love and energy given to her by her professors and turned it into an environment for her children to experience.
“My favorite part of being a teacher is probably seeing how excited our kids are to come through the door,” she said. “I always thought I could make a classroom environment where kids are excited to show up, and they may even be a little sad when we are out for a break. I just wanted a space that they approached, and they were welcomed no matter what, and they knew it every day. They never had a question whether we were happy that they were here.”
Clark said that she tries to find each student’s path to success inside and outside the classroom. She is constantly using four different tools that help her and her students reach this success. She uses her eyes to watch, her ears to listen, her voice to be quiet and her body to be calm.
“The first two tools are the most important to me because I want eyes that are watching,” she said. “I want to be able to see everything that our students are accomplishing and everything that they’re excited to do, and things that they’re struggling with so that I can support them. And I want ears that are listening to their ideas, their concerns and their thoughts so every student can reach a beautiful potential.”
When Clark was asked what she would say to others to help encourage them to go into teaching, she said that she had no reason not to encourage others to be a teacher.
“I think that it is a work of heart, definitely. It’s the biggest blessing in my life. It’s never the same; it’s unpredictable, which creates a space of excitement. I’ve never second-guessed whether or not I chose the right career path I was meant to have,” she said. “All through education at Tech, I was encouraged, I was supported, I found a school that I feel at home in, and I wake up the morning, it’s like, ‘Awesome. I get to go do that again.’ No matter what the day looks like before, it’s a new day; we’re in this together. I hope that I can grow very old before I have to walk away from the education system.”