2018 Florida Teacher of the Year, Tammy Jerkins

In honor of Florida School Volunteer Appreciation Month, 2018 Florida Teacher of the Year Tammy Jerkins shares the importance volunteers and how her volunteer experience influenced her as an educator.

"After four years of teaching high school mathematics, I became a full-time homemaker and mother.  When my children began attending school, I decided to go with them.  I spent fourteen years volunteering one or two days every week and some weeks even more.  During that time, I led fundraising efforts, organized teacher appreciation weeks, and even helped to write school improvement plans, but most of my time was spent working in classrooms doing anything the teacher needed.  I made copies, put up bulletin boards, and organized materials.  I was also given the opportunity to tutor individual students, lead small group instruction, and mentor at-risk students.

During those years, I had a front row seat to learn from master teachers.  Mrs. Kertz taught me the value of positive reinforcement.  Mrs. Bennett showed me how to love every student.  Mrs. Holmes modeled professionalism and leadership and Mrs. Henry was the epitome of organization and working bell to bell.  From Ms. Whitaker and Mr. Carter, I learned the importance of being creative and using a variety of exciting activities.  Mrs. Shepherd displayed how to discipline without getting angry.  I learned that the school day extends far beyond the final bell from Mrs. Elton and the significance of mastering your curriculum from Mr. Howard.  Mrs. Andreichuk taught me to have high expectations, and Mrs. Fitzpatrick showed me how to have fun and enjoy my students.

The lessons I learned while volunteering have greatly impacted my pedagogy today.  I realized the teachers I admired the most all had great relationships with their students.  Perhaps that was my biggest takeaway – love your students and show them you care!"

You can learn more about Tammy Jerkins and her journey as Florida's Teacher of the Year HERE. Share your volunteer experiences with us on Twitter using #FLSchoolsVolunteer.