Growing up in Pike County, Dana Pratt saw her teachers as superheroes.
“Like they had this super power about them,” Pratt said, “to be able to stand in front of a classroom and teach a bunch of children and help guide them through their educational lives.”
Now, Pratt is the superhero: she was voted the Forsyth County News Teacher of the Month for July by the community.
The Vickery Creek Elementary School third-grade teacher talked with the Forsyth County News about growing up in a small town, her teaching style and how “elbow hugs” have replaced the real thing.
How long have you known that you wanted to be a teacher?
“I knew that I wanted to be an educator by the time I was 5 years old. I knew when I hit kindergarten. I had always had this dream and this vision to become a teacher.
“I just naturally came across confident and a little bit of bossiness with my sister. I have a younger sister, ... we would go to school for seven hours, get off the school bus. My friends and sisters would be like, ‘What do you want to play?’ and I'm like, ‘Let's play school!’ And they're like, ‘But we just came home from school, so why would we want to do that?’
“I just always had this eagerness to always have school be a part of me.”
Why do you think that was?
“I think that came from the teachers that I had. I always looked up to them as if they were superheroes, like they had this super power about them to be able to stand in front of a classroom and teach a bunch of children and help guide them through their educational lives.”
Tell us a little bit about where you grew up.
“I'm actually from Pike County, Georgia. Very rural. The kids I graduated with were about 190 kids, and I started with them all the way from kindergarten to my senior year. Just a very close-knit community.”
How did you get to Forsyth County?
“I graduated from college, and my husband and I were newly engaged. He told me if I wanted to marry him, I had to move up here, because he did not want to live in south rural Georgia.
“I was like, ‘OK, I don't really know much about North Georgia,’ you know being from such a small town.
“He told me, ‘Forsyth County is probably where you would like to teach. It's a growing county. It's a very enriched county. They're very into their education with their kids.’
You teach third-grade now, but you’ve moved up grades from kindergarten during your time at Vickery Creek. What’s that like?
“You get to actually watch these little kids grow into mature 10-year-olds that are leading the building. Because we're a big leader-in-me school. We really focus on leadership and taking ownership.
Just watching the little kindergarten babies start out at 5 years old, and by the time they're in fifth-grade it's their school. It's like their home. They know how to run the school. It's crazy to say that, but they really do. they become so independent.”
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How would you describe your teaching style?
“Creative and outside-of-the box. I'm always, always looking to find that hook, and when I can find it in a student, I know, ah ha, I've gotten them. I also like to teach those core values of what it is to just be a good person in our community.
“I'm very organized, very structured, very loving. I tell my kids all the time, ‘Mrs. Pratt loves getting hugs.’ It makes me feel so good. It's like validation.”
Has it been hard not getting hugs in the same way because of COVID-19 precautions?
“It is a little different. We have adapted with air fives or elbow hugs or finger waves.