#MNPS Voices Maeve Fitzpatrick of Smith Springs Elementary
After wrapping up the first month of her first year as a teacher in her very own Kindergarten classroom at Smith Springs Elementary, it is still unreal to Maeve Fitzpatrick that the space, the curriculum and the education of students for the next school year belongs to her. While she admits she is sometimes nervous about the new responsibility, she is more than qualified and prepared.
Fitzpatrick is a graduate of Belmont University, and completed a program that allowed her to student-teach in Metro Nashville Public Schools. After spending time in MNPS, there was no question that the district is where she wanted to become a teacher.
“When working in a public school district you can see rapid growth and how you can help the students daily,” Fitzpatrick said. “Giving these students a safe and supportive place to learn is enough for me to keep coming back.”
Growing up with five older siblings, Fitzpatrick was more like the student in her family rather than the teacher, which made her eager to teach her lessons to someone. While her siblings went on to pursue a wide span of careers – from physical therapy to finance -- the youngest Fitzpatrick always knew she wanted to teach. She craved the constant activity and the never-ending challenges that come with teaching.
“I love the non-stop action and the energy from the kids,” Fitzpatrick said. “Every single day I learn something new. There is a challenge every day.”
She said the past month has been rewarding watching the young students find their interests through play and she feels she has come into her own as a full-time teacher. When Fitzpatrick feels uncertain, she is reminded that she is not alone.
“We have an awesome support system here, from the numeracy and literacy coaches who help me teach effectively, to the dean of students who helps with student behavior or the counselor who comes into my class weekly,” Fitzpatrick said. “Fellow teachers even offer to watch my class if I need a quick break. It is great to have the support of a team.”
For the first time, Smith Springs has implemented a school-wide formal teacher mentoring program. The program includes meetings on topics such as classroom management, parent-teacher conferences, discussions on successes, where improvements can be made and more.
“Maeve is doing awesome. She led a parent meeting recently like a veteran teacher by presenting the right data and anecdotal records to the support team that helped clarify the student’s present levels of performance,” said Dr. Cherish Piche, principal of Smith Springs. “She gets along well with her teammates and contributes actively to their collaborative planning sessions.”
Fitzpatrick says she can’t wait to see the growth in her students and, more importantly, that they see growth in themselves. She also hopes to earn their trust and that they know the classroom is a safe space to make mistakes and learn from them.
“I want them to embrace that you have to keep trying things, and if you fail it is okay, we will try again tomorrow,” Fitzpatrick said.
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