Throughout this school year, we're following a new first grade teacher in Davenport. That's where a district program is helping new teachers adjust to a career in the classroom.
A world of words comes alive for first graders. That's where first-year teacher Alex Lampe relates to youngsters at their level.
"You go into teaching, obviously, because you want to change the lives of students," she said.
The St. Ambrose University graduate is doing just that at Monroe Elementary School.
"They are more than just test scores," she said.
The Journey to Excellence program is helping her to deal with classroom management and curriculum planning. It's sparking success with her young students.
"You can see in their faces how proud they are of themselves," she said. "Yes, it gets you through even the most stressful days."
We first met Alex in August. It was just her second week as a teacher.
"It's so overwhelming, so hard and so exhausting," she said at the time.
But that fatigue and frustration are just a part of the process.
"Being a first-year teacher, there are so many questions," she said.
The Journey to Excellence program paired Alex with Jolene Whittemore. She's a veteran teacher serving as a mentor.
"She's doing a fabulous job," Whittemore said.
Their time together is leading to growth and confidence.
"Her day is measured in what she can accomplish," Whittemore said. "But also what they can do to make a difference in each one of those kids' lives."
That teamwork is helping to inspire a new teacher. These are lessons from the classroom designed to last a lifetime.
Four months into her new job, there are more mountains to climb.
"I need to connect with these kids on a personal level, too," Lampe said. "That's the only way it's going to work."
For both teachers, it's a work in progress.
"I've learned so much," Lampe concluded.
For Alex Lampe, finding the right words with a solid routine.
We'll check back with her at the end of the school year for reflections on her first year as a teacher.