Of course I think all (well most) Utah teachers are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, but Audryn Damron is truly one of my favorite educators. I am slightly biased because Audryn was a para-educator in my class during my beginning years of teaching. Since then, she has become a Special Education teacher and recently finished her Masters in Special Education. She is now ready to tackle National Board Certification. She is amazing! Here is a little more about her educational journey:
Where did you do your teacher prep? Brigham Young University: Bachelor’s degree (2011), Master’s degree (2015)
Where have you taught in your teaching career?
Centennial Middle School in Provo District, starting my 6th year in the same classroom (and still loving it).
What is the funniest thing a student has ever said?
Out of the blue, I had a student look at me very seriously and say, “You know what’s not fair? Girls get to wear make up. So if they’re ugly, they can just cover it up. If boys are ugly, they have nothing to help them.”
On a more serious note, I had a student tell me once that he wished he could be put in a body that could read well. I thought that was a profound statement. This teenage boy knew he was different. He felt different. He looked at others as people that could read better than he could and he wished he could be like them. That statement opened up my eyes to what it is like to be a child with a learning disability.
What one piece of advice would you give to new teachers?
Talk to other teachers! Ask questions. Share stories. Get lesson materials and ideas. Talk to your neighbors, your PLC, your administrators, your mentor, etc. Don’t go through hard times alone! Most importantly, do not talk to negative people. They will bring you down and make you question why you chose education. Surround yourself and find comfort from people who still believe in education and love what they do.
What is your favorite teacher resource?
TeachersPayTeachers is fantastic. I love that teachers have put so much effort into their lesson plans and are willing to share them with others. Yes you have to pay for most of the materials, but it’s worth my time to pay a few dollars to not have to make them myself! Those teachers also get paid for their hard work, which I fully support.
Describe any experience you have had in education policy?
I haven’t had any experience in education policy, but I am interested in changing that. I do receive updates from my PEA (union) representative about laws and changes that affect me. I know I could do a better job being more involved. I follow our state superintendent, UEA, and a few other forums on Twitter. That helps me stay up-to-date and involved.
What’s the biggest change you would like to see in education?
I would like to see teachers treated and viewed as professionals. Teachers in Utah seem to get the short end of the stick for just about everything. Recently, a law was passed that says any individual who passes a content exam can become a teacher. That seems like a slap in the face to those of us who have worked hard (or are currently working hard) on a collegiate education program or alternate licensure program. I understand that Utah is desperate for teachers, but please respect the process it takes to become an educator.
I would like to see Utah Board of Education recognize teachers as professionals by increasing our pay, providing solid benefits and retirement, and recognizing our value through reasonable expectations and frequent celebrations for progress and growth in schools!
Thank you Ms. Damron for all you do for students in our state, and for elevating the teaching profession by being such an incredible educator!