Tamara Wilkerson, Spanish Teacher, Jack Jouett Middle School
 
What has your classroom experience taught you that studying education could not have prepared you for? 

The most important thing that I have learned in my classroom is to always expect the unexpected. When I decided to become an educator, I thought that as long as I planned engaging lessons and stayed organized, that my class would always flow smoothly. However, things don’t always go as planned, and even the most organized plans can shift and change. I’ve found that as long as I remain flexible and attentive to student needs, then learning will take place, despite schedule changes. I’m dedicated to making sure that my students learn, regardless of the small bumps in the road!
 
What teaching adjustments do you plan to make moving forward?
I truly believe in community involvement and I have a strong desire to teach my students how to become responsible teenagers as they grow to become community citizens. I plan to provide my students with opportunities to communicate with our English Language Learners, through an International Food Night and a lunch club. Not only will this allow the English Language Learners to feel  more comfortable at Jouett, but it develops my students’ cultural awareness inside and outside of the school. As much as I love teaching Spanish, I think that students should also learn life skills, and interacting with individuals with various backgrounds will help them in the future.
 
In your eyes, what is the biggest challenge facing education currently?
I think that funding for education is one of the biggest obstacles that our nation is currently facing. It seems that every day we learn of a new budget cut or funding shortage for various student programs, as classrooms continue to get bigger. I am an advocate for ensuring that students and teachers have all of the resources that they need in order to make sure that learning happens, and financial shortages make it more difficult for teachers to provide that individual support that is necessary for student growth. I emphasize the quote that “teaching creates all other professions”, and if we place attention on more funding for education, then we continue to create leaders for tomorrow.
 
In the last few weeks, to gain insight on what important lessons our young teachers learn early in their careers, Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Meet Your Educator profiles has featured first- and second-year teachers.