Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of stories highlighting teachers at Elmore County.
Eclectic Elementary School teacher Wanda Holt had no idea one phone call would change her life.
“I’d graduated college in December,” Holt said. “I was on my way to go shopping and the school’s principal called. She said a teacher at the school was sick and asked if I could come that day. So I turned around and I’ve been here ever since then.”
That call took place 19 years ago.
Holt teaches language arts to students in third grade.
She said she enjoys helping and watching her students grow up during the school year.
“It’s about helping the students,” she said. “I enjoy when they come and I love the hugs and just them learning.
“When you get them in third grade you are able to see how far you take them by the end of the year because they become more independent. It’s amazing to see the growth, and they love cursive. It’s just the excitement. They are still excited about learning and pleasing their teachers.”
It was one of Holt’s teachers, Joetta Kelly, who influenced her to pursue education.
“She taught third grade at Wetumpka Elementary School,” Holt said. “She actually influenced me. I saw her maybe two weeks ago and she still remembered my first name. She was a really good teacher.”
Holt said students going into third grade experience unique challenges.
“I think third grade is a transition grade,” she said. “The students go from one teacher to two teachers and have to be a little more independent.”
An academic challenge students face is reading comprehension.
“I always think of it as the students are not learning to read in third grade,” she said. “They are reading to learn. They are really learning about different things. You’re trying to get them to think more critically in third grade.”
Holt’s solution to helping students comprehend reading involves more reading.
“I’m a firm believer in the more you read, the further you’ll go,” she said. “Exposing them to different genres is important. Exposing them to all types of texts so they have that knowledge base is important.”
Being safe with technology is another challenge she see students face.
“I do think that students are exposed more,” Holt said. “I think that can be a problem because they are learning about things earlier. There was a lot of stuff we didn’t know about when we were kids because we didn’t have all this technology.
“Technology is wonderful. I use it in my classroom. It can be a burden also. They can find anything. It’s a blessing and curse. What I tell my own kids and my students is make sure I can trust you. I do not need to be watching you for you to do what’s right. That’s just a life skill for me. I believe that wholeheartedly.”
Holt’s future aspirations may include working as a professor on a college or university campus one day.
“I just finished my masters so I can be more marketable,” she said. “I would be interested in teaching at the college level at some point in my life. I would like to transition to a college and do something with a college to help other teachers.”