Courtney Kluender, Albemarle County Public Schools

Courtney Kluender, 2nd Grade Teacher, Woodbrook Elementary School

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging thing for me is saying goodbye to my students every June. Watching those school buses pull out on the last day is a very emotional experience. You build such a strong relationship with the children you teach, spending over 6 hours a days with them for 180 days. The children become your family and it’s hard to let go. It is such a comfort when the new school year begins and they stop by to to say hi and tell me about their experiences in third grade.

What’s the most common misconception about your job?
I think it would have to be that teachers simply teach. In our whirlwind of a day we serve in many capacities, not only as a teacher educating children. We are a nurse putting band-aids on cuts, a parent consoling a child whose feelings have been hurt, a counselor helping to solve issues between friends, and a provider, making sure they have healthy snacks to eat. As educators we strive to meet all the needs of our children, not just their academic ones.

Where do you see the teaching field in five years?
Who knows!? I have been teaching for seven years now and teaching has changed dramatically. My first classroom consisted of 20 student desks, lined in rows, a teacher desk and not much else. Now, with the emphasis on comfort and choice, there are no desks and even tables are optional. The use of instructional technology in the classroom has greatly affected what and how students learn. And the emphasis on creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking has changed the way I deliver instruction. So, what will my classroom look like in five years? Who knows, but I excited about what the future may bring!

What outside experience prepared you best to become a teacher?
I am from a family of teachers. My grandparents were teachers, my mother teaches and my sister is a teacher. I think there must be a genetic predisposition in my family to be an educator. I have always enjoyed interacting with children, even early on. But despite these early interactions with children and the experience as a student teacher, I don’t think anyone is truly prepared when they step into the classroom and experience all that is involved in being a teacher. No amount of training can prepare you sufficiently. Each year, I continue to grow and learn. I currently live with my sister, a third grade teacher, and the majority of our dinner conversations revolve around education – sharing ideas and resources and problem solving together.