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Teacher of the Month: Quinn Grizzle's one piece of advice for new teachers
Chattahoochee Elementary School kindergarten teacher Quinn Grizzle talks with a student during class. - photo by Brian Paglia

Quinn Grizzle was a few months into her first year as a teacher when in walked the school system’s superintendent.

Grizzle, now a kindergarten teacher at Chattahoochee Elementary School, had a tough first year as a teacher. She dealt with behavior issues and turnover with her paraprofessional position.

“It was a learning year,” Grizzle said.

Teacher of the month ICON WEB

Quinn Grizzle

School: Chattahoochee Elementary School

Years teaching: Four

Subject/grade: Kindergarten

Then, one spring day, in walked Dr. Jeff Bearden. The Forsyth County Schools superintendent spent what “felt like an hour” in Grizzle’s class. He read to students. He asked them questions about what they were learning.

“It was nerve-wracking for me,” Grizzle said.

Four years later, the Forsyth County native thinks she could handle that situation far better, and she’d give her former self one piece of advice for how to do it: “Trust yourself,” she said.

The Forsyth County News’ Teacher of the Month for January 2020 talked about what she learned from her first year of teaching, her favorite teachers growing up in Forsyth County and the misconceptions of kindergarten.

How did you decide to become a teacher?

“I’ve kind of known I’ve wanted to teach since elementary school. I was one of those kids that would ask for a whiteboard and notebooks and markers and those kinds of things. Learning was always my passion. I love getting new information and always learning about things. I had lots of great teachers that made a great impact on me. I’m still in contact with some of them.”

Who were some of your favorite teachers?

“Laurie Schwaemmle was my kindergarten teacher [at Coal Mountain Elementary School]. Kin Hendon was my first-grade teacher. I actually taught with her when I was at Silver City Elementary School. June Tribble was my Pre-K teacher. I’m still in contact with Ms. Tribble as well.

“One of my favorite middle school teachers [at Liberty] was Robert Jenkins, who is at West Forsyth High School now. One my favorite high school teachers [at North Forsyth] was Gail Richardson.

“There are just so many that had an impact on me.”

What was it about them that made such an impact on you?

“Just the connection that we built and the relationship that we built. It was kind of a comfort zone, and they were very open and easy to talk to. They didn't judge you if there was something you didn't understand, and they would really take the time and help.”

So then what was your first year as a teacher like?

“Challenging. I kind of went through several different paraprofessionals because they got hired on for teaching positions. So I went through three paras before one finally stuck. I had lots of [student] behavior [issues] that year.

“It was just a learning year, kind of finding my teaching style and asking tons of questions, trying to find the right kind of people to base my teaching style off of.

“But I also had lots of sweet kids.”

How did you use that experience the next school year?

“I put a lot more effort into the decoration of my classroom and kind of making it feel like home. I added a lot more resources into my teaching and kind of dug into the standards and the learning that was happening.

“I definitely made a bigger effort to form relationships not only with the students but the parents as well. Forming that bond with the parents so that they trusted me in the classroom. I invited them into my classroom. We had mystery readers. There was lots of celebration, so anytime [students] went up a reading level or they [learned] a couple more power words or sight words, I'd always make sure to send a note home or send a picture. There's lots of parents, even from my first year, that I'm still in contact with.”

What are some common misconceptions about kindergarten?

“People think that if you're a kindergarten teacher it's just playtime all day, and it's really not. They're always working. That's probably the biggest misconception.

“Or that you have to be super out-going and super silly with everything you do. And I'm not.”

What do you love most about being a teacher?

“Every day's different, from what they say to what they do [and] how much they're learning. And I love to see the growth that they make, and especially in kindergarten. They're coming at all different levels. The lower ones are definitely the ones that have my heart a little bit, just because they might not know a whole lot and by the end of the year it's like, ‘Wow, you've made so much progress.’ But I could say the same for all of the kids as well.”