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Walnut Hill Elementary School’s Roslyn Eskridge has been recognized as East Tennessee teacher of the year and Roane County’s elementary school teacher of the year.
Representing one of three regional winners out of the East Tennessee Field Service Center, Eskridge is one of 27 teachers state-wide (three from each of the nine field service centers) and the only teacher from Roane County in the running for Tennessee’s teacher of the year.
Eskridge has taught at Walnut Hill for a total of 34 years, with 32 of those devoted to kindergarten teaching.
The Parent Teacher Organization celebrated her recognition with a luncheon last week.
“It was an emotional moment,” Eskridge said. “Because I just feel- I’m very humbled by this experience.”
“I just feel like I work at a school where there are just great teachers, and I’m just one of them,” she continued.
Eskridge didn’t originally set out to be a teacher. She obtained her degree in psychology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and went back to get her master’s in elementary education after someone had told her she would be a great teacher.
“I think it was just God’s plan for my life to become a teacher,” she said.
Eskridge has enjoyed working with the enthusiastic kindergarten learners through the years.
“They’re curious, they’re excited about learning, and they have so much creativity within them,” she said.
After school, she helped someone set up a broken trap on her learning carpet in the classroom. The trap lets kids know the leprechaun has come to visit the night before St. Patrick’s Day.
A lot of the kids, she said, hoped the leprechaun would still be in his trap when they walked in the class the next morning.
Incorporating fun into her classroom routine is all part of Eskridge’s love of teaching.
Though she utilizes the classroom’s Promethium Board, an interactive touch-screen smart board, Eskridge continues to rely on “tried and true methods,” such as puppets.
She proudly displayed her Lamb Chop puppet with a wide grin: “I’ll say to them, ‘Lamb Chop is looking for a quiet sitter. She doesn’t like noise.’”
Eskridge maintains a sense of enthusiasm herself. She told some of the parents at orientation at the beginning of the year that she still gets excited the night before the first day of school, just like most of the kids do, and she can’t sleep either.
Though she considers the No Child Left Behind Act a challenge, aiming for each student to read on their level by third grade, Eskridge strives to fill her kids with motivation.
“It’s my responsibility to work hard to first make sure that children like school,” she said. “I think if you can motivate a child and provide an atmosphere that’s conducive to learning – that’s also fun too – then that’s half the battle.”
She remembered a student she had several years ago who didn’t know her colors, shapes or animals when she started her class. By the end of the year, after Eskridge worked with her father and her aunt, the child was reading.
“That’s what I think is great about being a teacher: to help each child reach their own individual potential.”
Lori Vowell, who teaches 8th grade math at Oliver Springs Elementary School, won the Roane County middle school teacher of the year, and Loftin Gerberding, who teaches math at Roane County High School, won the high school teacher of the year.