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Katie Merritt
Media Arts Teacher

Katie Merritt has been the media arts teacher at Darlington since 2017. She holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of South Florida, Tampa, and multiple certifications and endorsements, including Certified Journalism Educator. She taught in the Hillsborough County Florida school district for the past 12 years and most recently taught English and served as yearbook adviser at Steinbrenner High School in Tampa. She was Steinbrenner's Teacher of the Year in 2016. This past year, Merritt was District 4 co-director for the Florida Scholastic Press Association and was a nominee for FSPA Teacher of the Year in District 4. She has also served on a Local Planning Committee for the National Scholastic Press Association.

The Struggle is Real (for Teachers, Too!)

9/22/2017 3:13:00 PM, 391 views

Me and Romey, the mascot for the Rome Braves!

Early in the year teachers were presented with the question: “How do we help our students struggle?” in the understanding that the struggle leads to growth through learning. Though I tried to answer the question, I was overwhelmed with my own question: How can I help students struggle when I am trying to come to terms with my own struggle?


As adults, we think we are supposed to be in control and have everything together. We are teachers, advisors, mentors. We are educating; therefore, we must know it all.


Having taught for the last 12 years in the eighth-largest public school district in the nation, serving on a state scholastic press board of directors, and being nominated as teacher of the year for my previous school, I felt like I could handle anything; and honestly, I’d gotten bored because nothing seemed a challenge anymore.


When the opportunity to come to Darlington fell into my lap, I jumped at it. I came to Darlington because I needed a change; I needed a challenge.


My move to Rome was significant. I’d lived in Tampa since I was 5. My family had never been more than an hour’s drive away. I even went to college locally to stay near my family. This is my first move away in 35 years of life. Challenge, indeed. New job, new home, new friends.


But, hey, I’ve been teaching for 12 years. I’ve got this down pat. How different could it be?


I found out on the third day of school when a student asked if he could speak with me after class. He explained to me that Darlington was different than any school at which I’d ever taught; he could see I was clearly a good teacher, but I the methods I’d used in public schools were far different from the expectations and needs of Darlington students.

 

Darlington defines the Portrait of a Graduate as someone who...

  • Passionately explores learning as a personal responsibility

  • Cultivates versatility by pursuing multifaceted goals (art, athletics, academics)

  • Identifies interdisciplinary connections

  • Transfers knowledge and applies skillsa from the familiar to the unfamiliar

  • Seeks and analyzes perspectives from multiple persons and cultures

  • Creates, collaborates, and effectively communicates with superior oral and written skills

  • Embraces a challenge, welcomes feedback, and reconsiders an approach

  • Investigates global interconnectedness and cultivates empathy

  • Turns empathy into a lifetime of service

  • Values Honor above Everything


And so my struggle began…


Not a week has gone by without struggle. How do I reach my students? How do I empower my students? How do I help them struggle without feeling like I’m failing them? But it is in demonstrating my struggle (and often failures) fearlessly with my head held high, knowing that more struggle and failures will be ahead, that I am successful.


Watching our students struggle makes us want to step in and fix it for them; show them how it’s done. But it is learning to be comfortable with struggle, and possibly failing a few times, that brings true growth and confident contributors to our community.



Comments
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Lila Alcott
9/25/2017
7:32 AM
Wow I don't think my daughter has you but I can see why you would be teacher of the year. I taught art for 20 years and recently changed careers but reading your thoughts here makes me want to go back to teaching . Thanks for sharing. Have a great week Weezy Alcott

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