Former student returns to teach

Aug. 19, 2013 @ 06:04 AM

Haley Rhoad was as excited as any other student returning to Sevierville Primary School for the first day of classes. The only difference was, she was coming back as a teacher.

Rhoad attended the school as a child, before eventually graduating from Sevier County High School. She went on to get her teaching degree at Tusculum.

Now she’s back at Sevierville Primary, teaching first grade in a classroom right next to her old kindergarten teacher, Ellen Perkins.

“It’s always been something I knew I wanted to do,” Rhoad said. “It’s never been anything else but teaching. I love working with kids.”

Rhoad seemed in full control of a room full of children on her first day, but it seemed some had been prepared well for being in school.

At one point, she asked the class “What does it mean to be a good listener?” The first answer: “That we don’t want to get in trouble.”

None of them were really any trouble for Rhoad, even though they were clearly excited to be back at school.

“I had butterflies and jitters just like them,” she said. “I was probably more nervous than they were.”

Once she learned she had her own room, Rhoad started working to make it her own.

She said she’d probably been in there two days a week, working on everything from the bulletin boards and decorations to the “teacher’s chair” she uses when reading a story or teaching a lesson.

She taught first grade at the school for part of last year, and she’s excited to be back this year. The thing that excites her the most, she said, is the chance to have a real impact on her students.

“I feel like at this age I really have a chance to make an impact and that’s what I want to do,” she said.

n jfarrell@themountainpress.com