Educators welcome former student as instructor

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Jeremy Kirby, a new fifth-grade science teacher at Jones Elementary School, knows the impact teachers can have on their students.

Kirby points to the influence two teachers had on him as a student at Vinson-Bynum Elementary School a dozen years ago.

Both educators, Kristin Lamond and Annette Jones, are still teaching and now have classrooms at Jones Elementary School.

What is unusual is that Kirby has a classroom right down the hall from the educators who shaped his character all those years ago.

“I had Ms. Jones in fourth grade and Ms. Lamond in fifth grade,” Kirby said last week as he joined other Wilson County Schools teachers in their first week at work preparing for the 2018-19 school year.

“I think back in the fifth grade, I had no aspiration to be a teacher, but somewhere along the way, whatever they poured into me, it stuck,” Kirby said. “The saying is, ‘Kids don’t remember what you teach them, but they do remember how you make them feel.’ And I remember feeling awesome in both of their two classes, so now I am here today. I think it’s just very interesting how things work out.”

Lamond just came by Kirby’s class with his fifth-grade yearbook and her grade book from that year.

“He was mostly As in math and science for fifth grade. There was only one B,” Lamond said.

Lamond called Kirby a “fabulous” student.

“He was very attentive,” Lamond said. “He was always a helper. He was quiet and reserved. I never had to call his mama.”

Jones also gave Kirby high marks.

“He always worked really hard and was just a very diligent student,” Jones said.

The teachers said Kirby typified what makes a good student, being attentive, working hard, completing assignments, participating in group work and being dedicated with his head on straight.

Kirby said it just goes to show you that his years of hard work came to fruition.

“You know, they would tell us, ‘It will pay off one day, and you will find what you want to do’ and all that stuff when you are in the grade. When you are doing the work, you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Kirby said.

“If you have awesome teachers, then you can just stay positive if that is your character.”

Kirby said he will be referring to Lamond and Jones in class.

“I am going to use them as examples when I talk to my students about the goals that I want to set for myself when working with them. I want to have longevity in the career and learn from other mentors, as I am sure they did, “Kirby said. “Now I have my previous teachers to learn from as well, so that’s really cool.”

Lamond is also a fifth-grade science teacher. Jones now teaches first-graders.

Some of Kirby’s students may have had Jones as a teacher already.

“You can tell them that you guys had the same teacher,” Lamond said. “They will think that’s neat.”

Lamond said she told Kirby and his classmates what she was teaching them was “real world” that they were going to use someday.

Kirby is a perfect example of that. Now he can say the same thing to his students.

Lamond told Kirby that he could now tell his own students, “If you become a fifth-grade science teacher, you get to use what I taught you. That’s awesome.”

Kirby, a native of Wilson, is a 2014 graduate of Hunt High School who earned a degree in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro this spring. Kirby received a Peewee and Myrtle Owens Scholarship when he graduated from Hunt. As a requirement of the scholarship, recipients must return to Wilson to teach after graduation.

Fifth grade, Kirby said, is a really important time for students.

“Socially, they are trying to figure out themselves,” Kirby said. “Psychologically, they are entering into the stage where many of their impressions of themselves and others and the world around them become set in stone. That’s just the chemical breakdown in our brains between 10 to 13. Whatever impressions they learn, they usually carry them on through life. If I can somehow inspire at least one student to consider some type of field dealing with science, whether it be a pharmacist, archaeologist or as simple as being a science teacher, I have opened up that possibility for a student who disregarded this subject as being important in their lives.”

Kirby said he is eager for the year to begin.

“I am excited just to meet new people, see new faces, and I hope to build long lasting relationships with my students,” Kirby said. “I have two teachers who I had in fourth and fifth grade, and they work here now with me. So it will be amazing to see who I am going to be able to engage with one day.”

School starts next week on Monday for Wilson County Schools, and open houses will be held this week.

Teachers started back two weeks prior to the first day of school this year, which is one week earlier than in other years.

“Instead of sprinkling in teacher workdays throughout the first semester, we are front loading them before students come back,” said Amber Lynch, public relations director for Wilson County Schools. “This will enable us to give exams prior to winter break.”