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This Silver City Elementary School teacher found her passion outside of the traditional classroom
TOTM
Lindsey Arnett is the Forsyth County News’ Teacher of the Month for November. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Arnett.

Lindsey Arnett knew she wanted to spend her career teaching in an elementary school. She had no idea, though, that she would eventually find her passion outside of a traditional classroom.

Arnett began her career 15 years ago at Mashburn Elementary teaching second grade after student teaching in the county.

Through her career, she has also had the opportunity to teach first grade and kindergarten at two other elementary schools in Forsyth. But through all of this experience, she didn’t realize she had a passion for other types of teaching until just a few years ago when she had the opportunity to begin teaching special education and helping students with learning disabilities.

Teacher of the month ICON WEB

Lindsey Arnett

School: Silver City Elementary

Years teaching: 15 

Subject: Specialized Instruction

From there, she found herself as one of the county’s only specialized instruction teachers at Silver City Elementary School.

“My students all have extreme social and emotional behaviors where they really just need modification, they need training,” Arnett said. “So all that social and emotional learning, that’s what I do all day long. I do, obviously, help with academics and teach them. But our main focus is helping them work through their big emotions that they’re having.”

While the job is a bit tougher, Arnett said she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“I’m very, very grateful that I’m in this position,” Arnett said. “Most people call me crazy, but I love it.”

This dedication to her kids and their academic and emotional needs are one big reason why the community voted Arnett as the Forsyth County News’ Teacher of the Month for November.

The FCN spoke with Arnett to ask more about her newfound passion in the classroom, how she found herself at Silver City and what she and her family find time to do outside of work and school.

Tell me more about what you teach at Silver City.

“Those big emotions [that my students have] could be they’re having a tantrum or throwing desks or hitting or fighting …. When they’re doing that, obviously, they’re unavailable to learn. I’m there all day with them, and we just teach a lot of strategies to get them thinking, ‘How can I work through these big emotions? How can I solve my problems without resulting to these behaviors?’

A lot of people don’t realize we have that in our county. Our kids phase into general education classrooms when they’re able and safe, and we’re a very systematic program. They have to work toward their emotions, and they build up slowly to go back into the classrooms.

That is our ultimate goal is to get them into the classroom full-time. It obviously doesn’t happen within one year. Sometimes it does, but most of these kids are in our program for a few years.

But a lot of our kids have trauma. Some don’t. It could be genetic or something going on with their brain that, until they can get some medicine or therapies in place, they can’t help it. But a lot of our children do have trauma or broken-up homes ….”

 

When you first started teaching, did you ever think you would get more involved in behavioral and social and emotional learning?

“No, absolutely not. I look back 15 years ago to my first year at Mashburn Elementary, and I was just a normal second grade teacher.

My last year as a general education teacher was, gosh, seven years ago. But I had a behavior student, and that’s when I really started to think, ‘I like this.’ There is always a reason. Kids aren’t acting out just to act out.There’s always a root problem.

And then when [Principal] Mike Sloop opened up Silver City, I went and interviewed with him and he said, ‘You know, I’ve got this position available.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely not. I’m not certified for that.’

‘He kept trying to convince me [that I would be great for it], but I just was like, ‘I’m so sorry. I’m going to have to decline. I just don’t think I can do that.’ Thankfully, he did not give up. He called me one afternoon and said [he had] checked with the county and I was certified for it. I didn’t even know I was.

So he convinced me to try it …. I kind of fell into this and said, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a try.’

And I would not look back. I love it.

There are days I’m getting bit, I’m getting hit, cursed at, I’m chasing kids. But like today was a good day, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

 

Has it been difficult adjusting to this job, especially when you know some of these really young kids are going through difficult times at home?

I will be honest, my first year was really rough. I would come home crying. I have had children who have been sexually abused and in situations like that. It was really, really hard. I felt like I was failing them.

It’s really hard not to take it personally when you don’t see them making progress. When I say progress, I mean they are making progress, but you don’t see it in your eyes. They are still having big emotions, they are still having tantrums, they’re still in these behaviors. So it can be hard not to take things personally because they say some mean things or have rough days.

But thank goodness we have a great support system at my school and at the county. My team is amazing …. I rely on them heavily. They’ll point out things like, ‘Look at this. This child, just six months ago, couldn’t do this. Now look at what they are doing.’

And our admin is the same way and even the county people who come out to support us.”

 

How did you end up at Silver City?

“My principal there opened up Brookwood Elementary, so I went with her until she retired. And then I moved to Chattahoochee for just two years, and my home school is Silver City. We live just right around the corner.

My daughter kept saying, ‘When I go to kindergarten, mommy, I really want to go with my friends in the neighborhood.’ And I was just thinking I can’t move schools again! But I did, and I’m so glad I did. It’s been nice because she wanted to be able to ride the bus and be with the neighborhood kids.

I never thought I would be doing this, but here I am. If I would have moved to Silver City even five years ago, I probably wouldn’t be doing EDI, but I love it. It worked out perfectly.”

 

What do you like about Silver City?

“My team is what makes it. We laugh everyday, all day long. We cry together, we laugh together, we are all friends.

I love going to work because I love my team. It doesn’t feel like work. We love each other, we rely on each other, we hang out together outside of work. So it’s been fun.”

 

What do you like to do outside of work

“We travel a lot. This summer, we had the opportunity to go to Hawaii for almost two weeks. We also do cruises, we’ve gone to the Bahamas and Colorado. My husband and I decided many years ago to prioritize memories over things, so we try to do one big vacation with them per year.”