Baker teacher aims to have lifelong impact
Published 10:40 am Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Rebekah Arnett’s choice to become a teacher solidified as an undergraduate.
While pursuing her bachelor’s in history and political science at the University of Kentucky, Arnett began contemplating what she wanted to do in the future and who she wanted to be. Becoming a teacher seemed to be a natural fit for her.
“I wanted to make a choice that would not only impact me, but I could impact others as well,” she said.
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While Arnett, a Salyersville native, is in her first year teaching at Baker and her seventh year teaching fifth grade. Arnett previously taught at the intermediate school in Montgomery County.
Arnett also received her master’s in secondary social studies education from UK. After finishing graduate school, Arnett worked with a grant through UK’s College of Education, visiting middle school classrooms in central Kentucky to promote civics education.
At Baker, Arnett teaches fifth-grade reading and social studies. Throughout the year, classes work on literacy skills, nonfiction skills and more in the reading classes and they cover most of U.S. History, beginning with Native Americans and ending in the modern era in history class.
“I was able to combine my interest in history and political science and get to work with kids at the same time,” Arnett said.
Arnett said she completed her student teaching in a high school and also worked a long-term sub position at a high school in Lexington, but when she started working with the grant-funded project and going into middle school classrooms, she discovered her passion for teaching the intermediate school students.
“I just really enjoyed the age group and one particular class, we only had one fifth grade class that I would visit, and that seemed to be my favorite age group,” Arnett said.
Arnett’s favorite part about teaching is creating relationships with students.
“Get to know them, what they’re interested in and watching them grow from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, not just academically, but you get to see them grow as people and get a sense of who they might grow up to be,” Arnett said.
Outside of school, Arnett enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, friends, family and her golden doodle, Sawyer. Arnett said she also loves traveling, trying new foods, cooking and gardening flowers.
One great characteristic of Baker, Arnett said, is every adult in the building wants to see students succeed.
“It’s not just their teachers,” Arnett said. “It’s not just administration or our counselors who are fantastic. Our custodial staff is always in the front hallway in the morning saying, ‘Good morning.’ Our cafeteria ladies who bring in breakfast every morning, they have created a great rapport with the kids. They know each of the kids in line … I think everybody works together in terms of school every day to do what’s best for kids, and how we could make all kids in the building successful and feel welcome and loved from the moment they get here until the moment they leave.”
Every year, Arnett tries to take pictures throughout the year. At the end of the year, she pulls all of the images together in a slideshow for the students to watch.
“That’s always a fun day to look back at how we’ve grown since August,” Arnett said. “Sometimes we’ll pull some of our work samples from August, and I can compare it to in May, and just to see the growth that they’ve made so that they can remember this is what I accomplished this year, this is how much I’ve grown, and I’m ready to move on to sixth grade.”
This year, Arnett said she’s trying to intertwine her two subjects as much as possible.
“That’s been my goal is to tie our social studies content in with our reading and writing skills,” Arnett said.
Arnett said she hopes her students remember not only the skills they learn throughout the year but also how she cares for them.
“Just because they leave my class doesn’t mean that I’ve left their life,” Arnett said. “I’m still here for them even if they leave my classroom.”