Sterling gets back in the classroom at S.P. Morton

Published 5:56 pm Friday, June 10, 2022

Franklin City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tamara Sterling was recently reminded of how

teachers can affect — and even be moved by — their students.

A school division news release stated that FCPS teachers do far more than present detailed lessons in mathematics, English, history, athletics and the sciences to their students. Every school day, the educators also strive to connect with, energize and inspire them. When this happens, everyone can better understand, appreciate and personally apply the subjects to their own lives.

On Tuesday, May 31, Sterling visited Jennifer Culpepper’s fourth-grade homeroom at S.P. Morton Elementary School. There, the superintendent taught a lesson based on Kate DiCamillo’s book “Because of Winn Dixie.”

In brief, India Opal Buloni meets and rescues a stray dog that she calls Winn Dixie, which is where the animal is found. This relationship not only betters the dog’s life but also that of the girl and even those around her.

Sterling’s visit and this story made a distinct impression on everyone, starting with Culpepper, who has taught the book before.

“I was pleasantly surprised in a good way,” she said. “I didn’t expect it.”

The superintendent read part of the story, and her lesson included vocabulary, word-building, synonyms and antonyms.

“Teaching a lesson today reminded me of all the work that goes into being a teacher,” Sterling said. “The hours spent planning lessons, grading papers, communicating with parents and reinforcing positive behavior. Being a teacher today is challenging; however, I’m appreciative that we have teachers that are dedicated to accelerating our students forward.”

Culpepper added that she would welcome return visits by Sterling and graded her work with a thumbs up.

The students all said they really liked both the lesson and the book. Tyronee Evans said that what is to be learned from the story is “to care about others.”

Braylon Brown said he learned from it to “be respectful of others.”

Alexis Godsey, who came in late that day, was already familiar with Winn Dixie. She said with enthusiasm, “I love the book!”

Ty’erica Phelps said, “The book showed me about friendship and that you can’t just leave a dog on a street alone.” Her favorite part is about India’s rescue of the stray.

“Treat people how you want to be treated,” said Tamiah Savage, who added — like all of her classmates — that they would want new teachers to be like Sterling.

Faith Davis said she also enjoyed the story, as did Nicole Evans, who said, “When you see a person or a dog in the street, you should help and care for them.” She added that India’s first meeting with and bathing of Winn Dixie is a favorite part of the story.

Brianna Ophelia and Se’Miyah Lee each said the lesson they took away is to “treat others how you want to be treated.”

Jynajah Brown thought the story to be “very nice” and even learned how to spell “clanking.” But she particularly noticed that Sterling was “able to bring a good energy to the class. She showed a good example.”

All the students said they would welcome her back to teach and likewise gave the  superintendent a strong thumbs up.