Jessica: So thank you guys. If I didn’t already say thank you so much for joining our Teach Beacon podcast. This is with Middletown City School District. And today we have Amanda and Kee Edwards. So Kee you are an elementary principal for the school district and Amanda, you’re the middle school assistant principal.
Is that all correct? Okay. So I’m curious before we jump into the questions, I would love to know Amanda, what started your journey as an educator and how do you feel about your school district? I’m very excited to have you on our podcast. I have to say, about Marlon. I’m pretty exciting. I feel like there’s a lot to be said for that.
And I’m so grateful that he has all three of you offered up for our podcast. So I do want to know a little bit about your career, your path and how you got started with Middletown.
Amanda: So I spent 12 and a half years as a high school science teacher before entering administration. I taught in several different school districts and then landed here in Middletown the same year that Marlon started.
So this is my fourth year as the assistant principal at the middle school completely coincidentally Marlon and I had crossed paths in our careers and socially I worked with his wife, at Northwest local schools. She was actually my assistant principal for part of my time there. So he was interviewing while I was interviewing actually.
So just coincidentally, we landed here at the same time and this is my first time having an opportunity to work with him. And I have just really enjoyed this journey with #MiddieRising and just the growth that we have seen here in Middletown.
Jessica: That’s fantastic. Yeah, I agree. It’s very impressive. Being a middle school principal- have you always been in middle school education then?
Amanda: No, I actually spent my entire teaching career at the high school level. However, I did spend a good portion of my time teaching freshmen ninth graders. And I have said that my experience with seventh and eighth graders, it’s very similar.
They’re a little bit more moldable in the seventh and eighth grade age. Once they start to enter high school, I feel like that’s, and Carmela can speak to this, they start to get that chip on their shoulder. They know more than you do, and they’re ready to forge their own path. Whereas in seventh and eighth grade, I feel like they’re still open to our guidance.
Jessica: I could not agree more, although I am by no means a principal, but I’ve been a coach since 2005, myself at my local school district here. And I started out coaching middle school and I love it. And most people, when they hear that you like working with middle school kids, they look at you like you must have five or eight heads.
Like, why would you like middle school? And for me, it’s very similar. I do find they’re more fun. They still know how to have fun, but you’re so dead on about the high school, getting that chip on their shoulder, they start to get jaded and don’t think the world is as pretty and hopeful as I think they used to when they were younger.
When I was offered a high school coaching position. That’s actually how I felt. I’m like, you guys are no fun. Once you turn about 16. You’re not quite as fun to be around, but. Very good. That’s excellent. I’m glad to hear your perspective and Kee, I’m very interested. So elementary school, I have heard from many different perspectives, but elementary, I feel like has gotta have quite a few challenges, school education before COVID-19 hit. If you don’t mind, similarly, give me your background, how you came to Middletown and your interactions with Marlon’s vision and where you guys are at and how you like your role and what your role is in elementary education.
Kee: I happened to be a home-grown born and raised in Middletown, went away to college at alabama A&M University came back to help and the community was a second grade teacher for eight years and coached at the middle school basketball for several years before I went to the high school at the varsity level, coaching. I’ve been in administration for 14, 15 years. Elementary is my niche. The other two spoke to the clay and molding and the chips, our students are more like jello.
They’re a lot easier to mold and form and definitely take our perspective as more gospel than they probably do when they’re a little older. With that being said, the challenges in elementary are quite different. I appreciate our new superintendent balancing academics with future ready skills to prepare these students to be ready beyond high school at a much greater rate than a complete focus on academics, because it will take a combination of the two to prepare them for the future that they will be walking into.
And regardless of our challenges, we are more reliant on parents to help us with the duties of educating their children when we cannot have our hands on them inside the school and partnering with parents and the community is a lot more of the focal point in our elementary endeavors to ensure that students are educated.
Jessica: That is a that’s also. Yeah, that’s a great perspective for those of us that don’t, I don’t have any elementary age children in our house. They’re all middle school, high school, college. So. Having parents involved, how was communication with keeping them as involved as possible during COVID, how has that worked for you guys in the elementary school?
Kee: I’m sure if you’re involved in just about anything, you are completely aware that texting has become the new form of communication. We have been fortunate enough throughout the elementary schools to all use the dojo app, and we are finding that parents are more likely to read a text and text teachers back and in regards to communicating messages, feedback, and other important information that we need to get to them.
And so we’ve had a lot of success using the dojo app and texting parents as our primary mode of communication, because we’re finding we’re not getting sent to voicemail and we’re getting to respond, getting responses from parents. So.
Jessica: That is very good feedback – we live in the same house and texting is how we communicate it feels like, 50% of the time. Our school district does a similar, they do both. We get, we get text messages as well as automated voicemail. I’m not sure if Middletown does or not, or just texts, but you’re right. It gets the message and you get to make sure it’s read and then at least pass on and communicate better that from that regard.