Hampton, former teacher’s aide, makes classroom her own

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2003

NATCHEZ &045;&045; No nameplate yet hangs above room No. 3 at Morgantown Elementary School, but that does not mean this room is without an owner.

New teacher Linda Hampton has already begun to put her mark on her first classroom with her name on the window of the door above the names of 20 second-graders she will come to know well in the next 10 months. And in the room next to her is Kathy Green, a 14-year Morgantown veteran with five years spent on the second-grade hall. Not only does Hampton have a neighbor with experience, but she also has a friend and mentor &045;&045; literally.

The pair have known one another for about 25 years, and this year, Green will serve as Hampton’s mentor as part of the Natchez-Adams School District’s mentoring program for new teachers. But Hampton is no stranger to this school, although this is her first year to teach. Hampton was a teacher’s aide in the classroom next door to hers when it was a kindergarten class. With 18 years of experience in the school district, she has been a teacher’s aide and has worked at the parents resource center and in public relations at the central office. Also, she did her student teaching at Morgantown, first with Green in second grade and then in fifth grade for the other half of the semester.

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Did she quit her jobs to attend school? No. Except for her student teaching semester, she worked during the rest of the six years she spent in college.

&uot;I’m not your traditional student, and the older you are, the harder it is,&uot; she said.

She started college when her youngest of three daughters started college. Hampton attended full-time at Co-Lin for three years and Alcorn State University for three years, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in elementary education.

Setting up her room Fridy, Hampton said she is most excited about seeing the kids but admitted, &uot;I’m scared.&uot;

But her daughters and husband have been very supportive. Her husband has even had to take up the slack of cooking dinners and doing housework.

Her new support system, Green, said Hampton has asked a few questions so far, but not too many. Hampton said she is grateful to have a mentor, referring to the program as &uot;the greatest thing they’ve ever done.&uot;

Hampton has gathered many tips on setting up her room from Green and knows she will need that shoulder to lean on sometimes.

Hampton recalled a day student teaching in fifth grade when she had many discipline problems and questioned whether she could do the job. The next day, she followed the teacher’s advice and had a great day.

&uot;Then I knew why I wanted to do it,&uot; Hampton said.

She knows days like that may come as she begins the year, and she is prepared to run to her mentor with her many questions as well as her many stresses.

Green knows the mentors help calm the nerves of the new kids on the block.

Hampton said support is important, especially the first year or two when new teachers are &uot;trying to invent the wheel,&uot; as Hampton put it.

&uot;If (the mentoring program is) done right, it should help new teachers not get burnt out that first year,&uot; Hampton said. &uot;If they were going to lose teachers, it’s in the first two years.&uot;

Aug.7 Hampton begins her first year’s journey as a second grade teacher. &uot;Welcome to the pack,&uot; as the door reads, will greet the children upon entry. And right behind that door will stand a new, eager teacher, ready to put faces with the 20 names that now only grace her roll book but will soon become a milestone &045;&045; her first class.