Teacher Spotlight: Clark always wanted to teach

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 11, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / October 11, 2000

LAPLACE – In cooperation with the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board,L’Observateur is again spotlighting outstanding teachers in the school system. Each month, the school board shines its spotlight on one deservingteacher. Each teacher receives a free dinner at Bull’s Corner, an article inL’Observateur and a plaque from Dave Millet Insurance Co.

For the month of September, the spotlight shines brightly on fourth-grade teacher Pamela Clark.

Clark has been teaching four-and-a-half years at John L. Ory Magnet Schoolin LaPlace, and she said she is fulfilling a childhood dream.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” said Clark. “I have countless memoriesof playing school with my brothers as I grew up.”Originally from Georgia, Clark didn’t start her career as a teacher. She was ahairdresser for several years. She got married and moved to St. John Parishin 1983, where she had her daughter, Sally. When she finally got some timeshe enrolled at the University of New Orleans and got her degree and teaching certification.

“I chose to become a teacher,” said Clark, “because I wanted to impact children’s lives by showing them that learning is fun, exciting and worthwhile.”As a fourth-grade teacher Clark is under some extra pressure, being that her students have to pass the LEAP exam at the end of the year. But herexpertise and faith in her students has paid off. She taught an inclusionclass last year that included 12 special education students and 13 regular students, and 98 percent of her class passed the LEAP test.

“It is a very pressure-filled situation,” admitted Clark, “but I try not to focus on the pressure and hope the students do their best.”However, she cautioned, “It is a Catch-22 situation. If you do too well, theneven more is expected of you the next time.”She said she really enjoys teaching the fourth-grade because that is when children are really beginning to look at the world around them. For Clark, thebest part of teaching is watching her students learn something new.

“Fourth grade is interesting,” Clark said. “The students are just getting intoabstract concepts. It is so much fun to see the process of education takingplace and seeing the students grow.”Clark is also very active in the After School Assistance Program, a coordinator for the Spelling Bee, instituted the Banking at School program at Ory and teaches summer school.

She is pretty humble about her accomplishments.

“This award is really for everybody here at John L. Ory,” Clark said.”Everybody here is like family.”Ory is the first school Clark has worked at and says she finds the atmosphere very accepting and caring. She also says she works with a lot of”smart people.”When Clark is not teaching she is busy taking care of her 7-year-old daughter, who attends John L. Ory. She also keeps up her life-long love ofreading. She said she mostly likes reading novels by Anne Rice and JohnIrving. Clark is also involved with her church and teaches Sunday school.And sometimes she goes camping with her family.

“I’m not crazy about camping,” said Clark, “but I do it to please my family.”When asked what advice she would give to new teachers, Clark said, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help or make mistakes and have fun.”She continued, “Remember the students are somebody’s children. So treatthem like you would want someone to treat your children.”

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