Charlene Metcalf says working with her students at Marion Middle School is both the easiest and most challenging part of her job.
To help students learn the chemical properties of silver, for example, she will use memory devices like singing and secret agents. Secret agents carry silver bullets, so “Ag” is the elemental symbol for silver.
“The kids look at me kind of strangely at times, but we try to come up with some different little mnemonic things that help,” she said. “I always tell the kids they better get silver, because if they don’t, I’m going to be singing, and they’re always like, ‘please don’t sing.’”
Metcalf teaches with learning resources and special education students, plus a little of everything else on the side.
During the first and fourth hours, she teaches math and English in her classroom for students who need extra help.
Second and third hours, she travels to science and social studies classes to help students get started with their work, and understand what they are doing.
After a post-lunch eighth-grade seminar, Metcalf helps cover for other teachers, going to an eighth grade class for fifth hour and a seventh grade class for the sixth hour.
“I grew up in a family where education was important, and I want to make sure that the kids know that education is important,” she said. “I want them to know that the better the education they have, the better options they have. They can choose to be whatever they want to be as long as they have the skills to go with it.”
Metcalf helps with concessions that fundraise for the eighth grade’s annual trip to St. Louis, as well as teaching writing, poetry, and drama during the summer sessions.
She said she gets excited about everything.
“I’m one of those people that, the glass is half full, and there’s a pitcher nearby, so we can always refill it,” she said. “I think if you like what you’re doing, it’s not really a job. It’s just something you do, and keeps you entertained during the day.”