Loud. Messy. Busy. That’s how Anna Jarvis Elementary School Teacher Bethany Knight describes her classroom filled with young learners. As a kindergarten teacher, she said her goal isn’t to make her students grow up faster but to recognize the importance of the responsibilities they have now and build upon them.
“For many, this year was their first school experience, and my goal was to make virtual kindergarten as engaging and fun as the ‘real’ thing. Kindergarteners are resilient, and I hope to absorb some of that resiliency myself. I adore watching students grow and become independent thinkers and doers,” Knight said. “Kindergarten is loud, messy, and busy, but that is where the learning happens, usually when the kids think we are just playing. I think of the phrase, ‘everything you need to know – you learned in kindergarten,’ and I wholeheartedly believe that!”
Knight said she grew up watching her mother, a second-grade teacher, change her student’s outlook on education. She said she realized that she, too, could make a difference in tomorrow’s decision-makers.
“My mom had the biggest impact on my decision to become an educator. I knew upfront about the hardships that could arise as an educator, but I always saw the benefits far outweighed them. I was also blessed with tremendous teachers throughout my education.”
Teaching, specifically teaching kindergarten, is the only job she ever wanted. Throughout high school and college, Knight volunteered at afterschool and summer programs, and began working as a substitute teacher soon after graduating from Fairmont State University in 2003. Knight truly came full circle – starting and ending at the same school which taught her so much.
“I actually attended Anna Jarvis in first through fourth grade. I was hired at Anna Jarvis Elementary in 2008, and I thought it was so special when my teachers became my colleagues. I could not imagine another occupation for myself.”
This year, more than ever, Knight said she needed to establish a growth mindset for her students.
“I recognized quickly that parents had a difficult time seeing their child struggle, but in that productive struggle, true learning happens,” Knight said. “Often students, when faced with a challenge, experience anxiety and easily concede defeat. They look for affirmation before they are willing to share a new idea with the group. However, with practice, students become more comfortable with enduring the discomfort and working through it. Students gained intrinsic motivation and developed the confidence to continue to grow and learn. Perseverance was key!”
Mrs. Knight enjoys spending time with her husband, Arthur, who teaches 2nd grade at Anna Jarvis, and together they have three children: Regan, Rylee, and Roman. In her free time, she loves to read a good book and watch her kids on the soccer field.