There are a few things that you can be sure of in life. The sun will rise and set every day, the tide will rise and fall, and you will never forget your first-grade teacher. Mrs. Wooten was the first person I saw on my first day at RMA, and her kind smile and contagious laugh helped to quickly calm my nerves about the upcoming year. She gives her all to her students and her teaching, and this passion has been evident throughout her years at RMA. When I first asked Mrs. Wooten if she wanted to answer questions for her Faculty Focus, she was happy to help but didn’t like talking about herself, and this selfless attitude is seen in everything that she does. She has put her heart and soul into helping children learn and grow, putting her own desires aside for those of others. Even though she only knew me for one short year, she always takes the time to speak to me when we run into each other at school. Mrs. Wooten just has a constant joy about her that makes others instantly attracted to her welcoming spirit. As many who have had her as a teacher can tell you, one of the most beloved traditions of first-grade is being able to bring home the Scooby-Doo stuffed animal for the weekend. Scooby-Doo travels to each student’s home for a sleepover during the weekend full of pictures and fun which is just one of the many special traditions Mrs. Wooten does with her class.
look below to find out more about Mrs. Wooten and her love for both her students and her school:
Where did you grow up, attend college, and what was your major? I am a native of RMT. I was so fortunate to grow up with four brothers and a sister. My dad was a veterinarian that treated large and small animals which made my childhood even more exciting. I attended Stratford College in Danville, VA my freshman year, and I transferred to ECU the following year to continue my education. I was torn between art and Early Childhood Education. I chose Elementary and received a B.S. degree in Early Childhood.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? I’ve always wanted to settle in the mountains of North Carolina. I believe I’d enjoy the cooler temperature, beautiful sites, and the quaint shops!
How long have you taught at RMA? I’ve taught at RMA for 12 years, after leaving the public system of 30 years.
If you could give any advice to your students what would it be and why? I always tell my students just like I told my son, Justin, when he was younger. As you get older each year, you become more and more responsible for what you say and what you do. I can’t always be with you, so you have to always ask yourself when you are faced with a difficult decision one question: “Would my mom and dad be proud of me if I say or do this?” If you answer is no, walk away from the situation.
Favorite Movie? I am such a movie buff. There’s just no way I could possibly have a favorite. I just “LOVE” all sorts: romantic, adventure, suspense, and sci-fi.
What is one of your favorite memories? This is extremely difficult for me because many wonderful memories come to mind from my childhood. One fond memory I have is when I was learning to drive, and I’d go out on a farm and practice driving our jeep while my dad hunted with the dogs for quail. As I got older, he and I would shoot skeet together.
Are there any special traditions that you do with your class?I do have several class traditions:
October: My first graders make and wear their cute “Spider Hats” for the Monster Mash Parade.
November: POW WOW! The class makes headbands, dyes noodle necklaces, and decorates pillow cases with Native American symbols. We set up a teepee, sing songs, tell the story of the First Thanksgiving, and end with a feast of food!!
January: Igloos Projects—made out of all kinds of interesting materials!
February: We make the cutest animal valentine shoeboxes.
Our Famous Scooby-Doo weekend sleepovers! I have years of Scooby adventures and photos! He’s traveled everywhere! (We also have a small “Tidy Scooby” that travels from one neat desk to another.)
Nature Detective Walk (to our creek)
Cheeseburger Stories–The students learn to construct their writing with “meat” and have beginnings and endings. The students also write in journals that are important as a growth process in their learning.
When you were little what did you want be when you grew up and why? I have always wanted to be an elementary teacher. I used to play school in my mom’s laundry room with my younger brother and sister. In my family there were several teachers.
If you could have ice-cream with any historical figure, who would it be and why, and what flavor ice-cream would you have? I would love to have buttered pecan ice-cream with Princess Diana. I have always admired her beauty and grace, but more importantly she was always an inspiration to me because of the great compassion she shared with others in need. When you watched her on T.V. you just knew you were witnessing someone so extremely special. When I heard about her death, I remember how sad and heartbroken I felt for not just me but for all those who loved her.
What made you want to be a First-Grade Language Arts teacher? I just love teaching Language Arts in 1st grade because it’s so essential for a young child to have a strong foundation in phonics to become a fluent reader. It just does your “heart good” when you watch that struggling child turn the corner and pick up a book and read without any difficulty. It’s a satisfaction that’s hard to put into words. You’re overwhelmed with joy and excitement for that student.
What is your favorite part about your job? Well, my favorite part about my job is that for 42 years, I’ve never really thought of it as a “so called job.” I have always put my heart and soul in my teaching all my life. I honestly don’t know how else to do it. I love my students, my families, and my school. Over my years I have been blessed beyond words with much caring, love, and respect from children I have taught. I can’t think of another career that could be any more satisfying than the one I dedicated my life to do. A teacher’s love is not always spoken, but is understood and felt through the warmth, dignity, and self-worth she nurtures in every child.