Roshanna Beard is one of those glowing teachers you come across now and then who immediately show you how much she cares for her students and her work. She has jumped on every opportunity to work with our team when we come to visit Apalachee Elementary, where she teaches 4th grade, and where her son Christopher attends Kindergarten. The way she speaks about her passion for not only teaching but truly supporting her students in any way that she can is inspiring.
How did you get into teaching?
1995 – August 19th was the bombing in Oklahoma City. I was in Kindergarten. And I will never forget the way the ground shook, nor will I forget the way my Kindergarten teacher – Ms. Karen Bowen, I’ll never forget her name - handled the situation. A few years later I was in the 2nd grade and my brother was a very active boy, and he actually had a head injury. I realized then that I wanted to be a teacher who was as kind as my Kindergarten teacher but also was able to handle those very active students, and so I started dedicating myself to becoming a teacher.
As I grew older and I started looking around me and realizing the differences in education and application and how application from home either helps or hinders a child, I said I wanted to be that teacher who understood where students were coming from and that a lack of resources shouldn’t be a reason they can’t be successful at school. And as I grew older, I started making sure that I was putting myself in a place to be an educator and as I became a teacher I still remember my goals and my focuses as making sure that I provide differentiated instruction – not just if a student is disabled – but differentiated instruction because everybody learns differently, and teaching holistically.
If you could make a change to the teaching profession what would it be?
I would say that other people would realize what we do - I do stand with the teachers in Oklahoma right now, who are on strike. People don’t understand that as a teacher I don’t just teach. It’s a profession. I would say that I would want for others to understand our passion and where we come from. We don’t get paid for a lot of what we do, and understanding why we do what we do. We’re counselors, we are shoulders to cry on. Some days we’re hair dressers. Some days we have to be that tough love. A lot of the stuff that I buy I buy out of pocket, because I want them to feel loved, feel successful, and not to be bullied. On picture day I had a few girls who said “my mom can’t comb my hair” so the day before I stayed at school late and I washed and combed hair at the school, because they need that. They don’t need anything less than that in those situations. Sometimes people say 'well you became a teacher, you know you weren’t going to get paid for that,' but, if you don’t have good teachers, what kind of people go into the world?
How do you use PBS KIDS resources in your teaching practice?
Thanks to my son Chris always doing the Ready To Learn programs WFSU brings to the school I have an arsenal of AR books as well as the projects that come with them. With the Ruff Ruffman Workshop that they did, my kids were able to build – and they loved that – so I do take some of the resources that they take home and integrate them into my lesson plans. I like to watch Wild Kratts and use that as a Friday “brain break” because it has to be standards-aligned, so they can still watch the video and then I’ll ask comprehension videos throughout, like “What was the habitat? What was the threat to the habitat? How did Chris and Martin save them?” So I’m constantly using WFSU resources as well as PBS KIDS shows. I told my husband I said that’s the one channel that we cannot live without EVER. We have a 1 year old this coming Sunday and I said she needs to see it – she needs to know Peg + Cat – all of them - because they are the building blocks of learning.
Sometimes people say 'well you became a teacher, you know you weren’t going to get paid for that,' but, if you don’t have good teachers, what kind of people go into the world?
What else can WFSU do to further support your work?
Keep coming. Keep chosing Apalachee as one of their site schools to do pilot programs. I’m always going to be here, I’m here to support the students. I will tell other parents to get their students involved and how beneficial the resources are, especially because it’s so engaging – and for their parents who don’t always know how to do it at home, just come out here and be with your child. Get these resources. Start building your home library. Listen to your child in a different manner that isn’t always “sit down, write this homework”. Watch what your baby can do if given the opportunity.