All 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 classroom careers. Here's part three of this Journey to Excellence.
One word at a time, these first graders are learning how to read and write.
Inside the classroom at Davenport's Monroe Elementary School, first year teacher Alex Lampe really knows her 21 students. That makes the end of the school year a real accomplishment.
"At the beginning of the year, it's just experimenting," she said. "It's so hard to get those routines down. But we got it. We've got it by now."
The Journey to Excellence program pairs the St. Ambrose University graduate with veteran teacher Jolene Whittemore.
"Your kids at the beginning are empty slates," Whittemore said. "Now you have them all figured out."
She's serving as Alex's mentor.
"In Alex's case, I really think she has a true sense of teacher intuition about students and student needs," Jolene said.
Journey to Excellence is helping Alex to deal with things like classroom management and lesson planning. Things that are bringing out the best in the students and their teacher.
Our journey with Alex begins in August. It's only her second week as a teacher.
"It's so overwhelming, so hard and so exhausting," she said at the time.
That fatigue and frustration become just a part of the process.
"Being a first year teacher, there are so many questions," Alex said.
This year will be all about learning for first graders and their teacher.
"We will work toward her being the best she can be," Jolene added.
"We work hard," Alex said. "Every day, we work hard."
By our second visit in December, a world of words is coming alive for her first graders.
Four months into her teaching job, Alex is relating to youngsters at their level.
"You can see on their faces how proud they are of themselves," Alex said. "It's like, yes, it just gets you through even the most stressful days."
Teaming with Jolene Whittemore inspires the new teacher. These lessons from the classroom will last a lifetime.
"Her day is measured in what she can accomplish, but also what she can do to make a difference in each one of those kids' lives," Jolene said in December.
Now in May, Alex Lampe's first class continues to learn.
"In first grade, they make so much growth," she said.
As the class year comes to a close, there's achievement.
"They read all the time," Alex said. "It's amazing."
"The most fascinating part for me is that I get to see a little bit of myself through her," Jolene said.
And there's reflection as the school year comes to a close.
"It's going to be hard leaving them at the end of the year for sure," Alex said. "I haven't really let myself think about it because it's going to be hard."
Her first year is almost complete. There's plenty of promise and potential.
"Alex is a fabulous teacher," Jolene concluded.
Alex Lampe plans to be right back at Monroe School this August. That's where she'll start over with a new first grade class.
"I think I picked the right profession," Alex said. "I think I'm in the right place for sure."
One word at a time, it's the right place for a teaching career.