Pace: ‘teaching is not a job, it’s a lifestyle’ - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

Pace: ‘teaching is not a job, it’s a lifestyle’

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Posted: Thursday, December 21, 2017 12:00 am

This week our featured teacher is Erica Pace, who teaches first graders at the Tarawa Terrace Elementary school aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Pace has been teaching at TTE for three years, but has 10 years of experience in the educational field. Pace graduated with a Bachelor’s of Education from the University of North Carolina - Charlotte and has a Master’s of Education from Troy University. Pace also has an Educational Specialist Degree from Lincoln Memorial University.

Q. What encouraged you to pursue your job as an educator?

A. I always loved teaching even as a child. I always found myself teaching others even adults on other jobs. I was led spiritually and told I should be working with children, and I left my job worked as a teacher’s assistant for a year to see if it was something I could handle. I loved it, so I went to pursue my Bachelor’s in Education.

Q. What encouraged you to pursue education within your specific age level/curriculum?

A. I was spiritually led to work with children, so I pursued elementary education. I had been a middle grades major before and it wasn’t a fit. I then became an English major but did not want to teach high school, so elementary became the perfect fit.

Q. What is your main classroom philosophy?

To be a seeker of knowledge. If you wait for knowledge to find you, you will never have it. Knowledge is the one thing we can attain for ourselves and keep for ourselves. Once we have it, no one can ever take it away. I am a lifelong learner and I encourage my students to be the same. You should learn something from every experience and situation.

Q. What is a lesson you have learned from your students?

A. I have learned to be adaptive and willing to change. With each new year brings a new group of personalities and needs. I have to be willing to change to meet the needs of all students.

Q. What is your favorite part of being an educator?

A. Helping students build the foundation for their educational career.

Q. What advice would you give to upcoming/new educators?

A. Teaching is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. You have to be passionate about it. If you aren’t it may not be for you. You have to be willing to give it all you’ve got and then some.

Q. What is a favorite memory from your teaching career?

A. I had a student who was so attached to me that he would write notes in perfect spelling in first grade saying that he was supposed to stay after school with me, as if they were from his mom. He was a behavior concern and I would stay on him, but he loved it. One day, I was having a bad day and was questioning staying in the field. I went to my mailbox and there was a letter from him. He had since moved to another state. He wanted me to know that he was still getting in some trouble, but that he was trying to be good. This just told me that I was where I needed to be, and doing what I was supposed to be doing.

Q. What advice would you give to a parent of a 1st grader?

A. I always tell first grade parents that’s it’s important to work on independence with their children. At this age, they should be expected to do some things on their own. They also need responsibility, so if they don’t already have small chores to do at home, establish some. Also it’s important to have “math talk” as well as reading. It’s easy to talk about a book however; we need to speak with kids about math and allow them to see how math is incorporated in their everyday life. Examples I use is letting them have a calculator and add up items as they put them in cart at the store. Allow them to be involved in measuring while you cook. Elapsed time is the hardest skill, so talk about how much time you spend sitting at a stop light. You can have them look at the clock in the car when you stop and when you leave, then see if they can figure out how much time has passed.

Q. What changes would you like to see implemented in the school system within the next five years?

A. I would like to see more student access to technology. I know of school systems where students in elementary are working and learning with IPADs and IPODs. I would like to see our system move forward with this type of state of the art instruction.

Q. What are the biggest challenges you face as an educator in a military town?

A. The biggest challenge is losing kids as soon as you get to know them and not getting to see them as they grow and move up to fifth grade. Families can PCS and move from the area. It gets really hard to say goodbye sometimes, especially for a child and family you have been trying to assist getting academic assistance. They move and may have to start the process all over again.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share about being an educator?

A. I absolutely love what I do. It is exhausting, but it is rewarding. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Editor’s note: “Teacher Feature” aims to highlight accomplished educators on and off base and seeks to recognize the important role they play in our children’s lives and education.

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