Profiles in Pedagogy Elementary December
Our December Profiles in Pedagogy Elementary Education honoree is Teresa Dinger, teacher at Brushfork Elementary School. Ms. Dinger received her bachelor's degree from Bluefield State College and is certified to teach elementary school in grades K-6 and English/Language Arts in grades 6-8.
Ms. Dinger thinks the absolute best thing about being a teacher is the kids. She truly enjoys getting to know them and the unique personalities they have. Brushfork Elementary is a small school, so she gets the privilege of watching their students grow up and teaching their younger siblings as well. Each day, her students teach her just as much as she teaches them. She says, “Every day we laugh, some days we cry, but every day we are together. We become family, and that’s very special to me.
Ms. Dinger says the job doesn’t begin when the children arrive and end when the children leave each day. Many don’t understand that teaching is an all hours of the day profession, and it isn’t only about academics. She and her colleagues can be found writing lesson plans, attending professional development trainings, helping students and parents, and grading at any given point in the evenings and weekends. “It’s important to understand that our kids are always on our minds,” Ms. Dinger says, “We wonder if they’re warm, if they’re fed, if they’re being treated well. And we lose sleep when we know they aren’t.”
Her favorite subject in school was English/Language Arts. She can remember being very curious about reading and wanting so badly to learn even before she was in school. Her mother read to her a lot, and she enjoyed it so much! Once she was in school, she had wonderful teachers she admired and still admire to this day. She now looks back and appreciates how they nurtured, not only her, but her interest in reading and grammar.
When asked what the pandemic has taught her in terms of teaching and learning, she replied, “Wow! The pandemic has taught me so much about teaching and learning. It has opened my eyes so much more to the obstacles that students face in their everyday lives. We have homeless children that are trying to learn remotely. Teachers have become a fly on the wall in homes of their students, and what we are seeing isn’t always pretty. I’ve learned our students need us now more than ever.”
Some words of wisdom Ms. Dinger would give to aspiring educators is that it is so easy to become overwhelmed and obsessed with the responsibilities of teaching. She would never claim to being a perfectionist, but she does feel the weight of giving her best to her students each day. This can be mentally and emotionally depleting when combined with your own family/personal life. With that being said, you will have to continually remind yourself to take care of yourself, too. You’re no good to anyone unless you make yourself a priority. So, whatever self-care means to you, do it. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Ms. Dinger’s idea of a perfect school is one that is the cornerstone of the community that surrounds it. The students and staff would view it as their home away from home. It would be a place that makes students and faculty feel safe, welcomed, and loved. In her opinion, her small school strives very hard to do that, and it makes her so proud to work there.
In her spare time, Ms. Dinger loves to spend time with her family most of all. She’s a homebody, so cuddling up on the couch with them and a blanket is her idea of peace. She also loves to watch DIY shows to get inspiration for renovating her own house. Lowes and Home Goods see her frequently on weekends!
Please join Mercer County Schools in celebrating Teresa Dinger!