As Keila Frame worked toward her degree in Middle Grades Education at the University of North Georgia, she felt she constantly heard from her friends interning in Forsyth County just how amazing the school system is — from the kids and parents all the way to the administration.
Coming up on graduation, she had no idea where her career would be taking her, but she did know one thing.
“That’s where I want to be one day.”
School: Daves Creek Elementary
Years teaching: 6
Subject: Fifth Grade
She graduated in 2015 and headed off to begin her career teaching seventh grade math at Gainesville Middle School. Then, when her husband was offered a job, the two of them moved to Dayton, Ohio where she ended up teaching for two years before eventually moving back home.
After two more years of teaching in Gwinnett County, she finally landed her first job in Forsyth teaching fifth graders at Daves Creek Elementary School. She just finished her first year at the school, and she said she has been overwhelmed by support from the administration, staff and even parents.
She couldn’t be happier.
The community also offered Frame their support at the end of a long school year, voting for her as the Forsyth County News’ Teacher of the Month for April. She spoke with the FCN about her transition from middle to elementary school, her nerves coming into a brand-new school district this year and why she became a teacher.
Tell me a little bit about you.
“I’m married, and we actually just got our chocolate lab back in October. His name is Carlos. He has been a handful, but it’s been great. And we have two cats: Kitty and Debby. That’s my little family.”
What inspired you to go into teaching?
“I feel like it’s cliché. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I don’t have anyone in the family who was a teacher, but my mamaw was a janitor at my elementary school. And so every day after school, we would have to stay with her, and we would hang out in her office and get to wander around the school. And me and my sister, we would play school with each other.
“I kind of grew up in a school, but just on a different side of it. And I saw the impact that she had just in her position like she knew all the kids, all the kids knew her. They loved her, she loved them. That relationship she had with the kids was really cool.”
Has Forsyth County Schools lived up to your expectations?
“I think I said in my job interview I’m just looking to find somewhere where I can put down roots. A community. I’ve been at so many different schools, different counties. I just want this to feel like home and have that community vibe.
“And it truly feels like that. My teammates, every single one of them, would come in [in my first few months] and check on me every day and just say, ‘Hey, are you okay? Do you need anything?’ Even not being a true first-year teacher, they were still just overly helpful.
“And I’ve never been at a school where I can ask for something [from the parents] like if we’re doing a project and I need supplies. I’ve never had a room mom; I didn’t even know what that was until I got here, and I discovered that they are literally angels. I would just send a message to her and say, ‘Hey, we’re doing this project. I need this and this.’ And she would just say, ‘I’m on it.’
“The administration here is amazing. Compared to schools I’ve been at, they trust you as a professional. They don’t micromanage you; they make you feel like they trust you and your teaching style.
“You really get to be individual here, which I feel like that’s why a lot of teachers go into teaching is to have a little bit of that creative outlet. You can design lessons to kind of match your personality.”
What was that transition like going from teaching middle to elementary students?
“I will say I was actually extremely nervous. Especially whenever I moved into teaching fifth grade all subject areas. When it was just fifth grade math, I was cool because I said I can do this. It’s easier math than what I was teaching in seventh grade. No big deal.
“But I was extremely nervous because I was thinking I have to learn content for science, social studies, reading — this is going to be a challenge.
“Actually, it turned out to be super fun. Because I felt like, especially in my first year teaching it, I was kind of learning alongside the kids. It was kind of cool. It felt like I was getting to learn all over again.”
What made you want to go into middle grade education originally?
“I was a camp counselor for a few summers, and it was with middle school girls. And I thought I could see myself teaching those kids just because it is challenging, and aside from academics there is a mentor aspect to it. They’re going through that development stage, and it’s a lot.
“But with fifth grade, you kind of get a little snippet of it towards the tail end. I truly feel like fifth grade is the best of both worlds …. They’re still independent, but they’re still sweet and still not too cool to do your projects.”
Were you nervous coming into Forsyth County Schools at all?
“For sure. Just from doing my research and talking to other friends who work in the county, Dave’s Creek is amazing.
“Their test scores are always superb …. But even though they are known for great test scores, that’s not what it’s all about here. I feel like we talk less about test scores here than I did at previous schools where they didn’t have very good test scores. Here, it’s just about teaching the kids and building relationships. I love that.”
What do you like to do outside of the classroom?
“I enjoy photography as a hobby. That was one of my gifts to the parents [this year]. I took portrait shots of all the kids and did some pictures at field day to say thank you. I feel like parents love nothing more than getting a picture of their kid.
“On the weekends, I just like relaxing with my animals and my husband and friends. I do also enjoy working out. I just got a Peloton, which I’ve been into. I was into the running world for a while, and then when quarantine hit, all motivation [plummeted]. And I said, ‘I don’t know if I want to do the running thing anymore.’ But I had to do something, though.
“So one of my friends had a Peloton, and I said I’ll try it. It’s so much fun. It makes the workout go by really fast.”