This time last year, Katie Bush was teaching first grade Newton Falls Exempted Village Schools in Newton Falls, Ohio, but a June vacation to Marco Island changed everything for her. Now, she is the newest first-grade teacher at Tommie Barfield Elementary School.
“I absolutely fell in love with it here!” the Ohio native remembers. “I decided right then, ‘why not live and work in paradise?’ The available first-grade job and interview process came together so perfectly that I know this is God working in my life!”
Now, just two months into the school year, her enthusiasm and genuine care for her students is palpable. “First grade is a huge year of growth both socially and academically. I love to facilitate and watch students who are very eager to learn grasp new concepts daily. The excitement first graders bring to the classroom each day is so contagious,” Bush explains.
This is Bush’s third year of teaching. She is a graduate of Malone University in Canton, Ohio, and has a bachelor’s degree in elementary childhood education (Pre-K-3) and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Coastal Breeze News sat down with Bush to find out more about her and the journey she and her students are on together this year.
Q: Why did you become a teacher, and why elementary school?
A: For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be an elementary school teacher. Ever since I was little, I have thought of teaching as the ‘best job in the world’! I absolutely love kids and of course, love learning. Paired together, I never groan getting up or have the attitude that I ‘have to go to work today.’ I truly LOVE what I do! I have been in school (as a student) since I was five years old, so now at age 23, as a teacher, I don’t feel like much has changed. I still think of teaching as the ‘best job in the world,’ and I love that I can continue to wake up in the morning and be excited to go to school each day to learn new things.
Q: What was the first thing you noticed about TBE that told you this elementary school may be different from others?
A: I love the POSITIVITY that radiates at TBE. The entire staff and school is devoted to focusing on the POSITIVE. That is so rare. I love how administrators and teachers are celebrating the good things that students and staff do well, instead of trying to constantly dwell on the negative things. I completely understand that negative things have their place in needing to be addressed and rightfully so; however, focusing on the positive has created a school climate where both students and staff alike WANT to do good and WANT to be celebrated for doing well, instead of gaining attention for negative reasons.
Q: What are your goals for your first year at TBE?
A: You won’t be with me long until you realize that I am a talker. I truly enjoy people. However, an area that I have recently been challenging myself in is being a good listener. With a recent move, I am in a completely new environment not only professionally, but personally too, and I truly just want to listen and learn as much as I possibly can this school year to best understand the expectations of Collier County Schools, as well as to best benefit my students, parents and colleagues.
Q: What three words best describe you, and why?
A: I am outgoing, encouraging and hard working. I radiate a positive energy that comes from my goals and morals. I make it a personal goal to encourage others through my leadership qualities to be the best they can be. Additionally, my family owns a restaurant ‘Das Dutch Haus’ in Columbiana, Ohio, and after being around the restaurant my whole life, hostessing, waitressing, etc., I understand the concept of long hours and hard work, so I truly value that.
Q: How would you like students and parents to remember you?
A: I want my parents and students to remember that I had integrity. I define integrity as meaning that you consistently choose to do what you know is right, no matter what others will think or even if no one will ever find out. I realize integrity is often not necessarily the popular thing, as showing integrity from a Christian stance comes from actually choosing to LIVE by the Word of God. Also, in my opinion, integrity doesn’t just apply to big decisions. It also applies to your small decisions, as it pertains to your whole life. When placed in a questionable situation, I remind myself daily of the quote hanging on the fridge at home while growing up. It recites, ‘What is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular.’ I try to show through my everyday actions that I’m a person of integrity by being honest, respectable and by displaying a strong character. When you have integrity you don’t compromise your standards or values. You have a wholeness of character. You are dependable to do what you say you will do.