Spanish Fork Teachers Juggle Classroom Duties and Marriage with a Smile
This month’s teacher spotlight is an extra special one to me. This dynamic duo in teachers happens to be my brother and sister in law, and they are amazing!
Both of them teach at Spanish Fork Junior High. David Thacker is the Eighth Grade Digital Literacy and Ninth Grade Business Office Specialist. Thacker has been teaching for 17 years.
When he started college, he was working toward a business degree, not certain where it would lead him. When his wife, Kathy, suggested teaching, as all good husbands do, he switched his course and finished his degree in teaching.
He says one of the most valuable things he learned this year teaching through Covid was that when the governor announces to the state that schools are going to be closed before he tells the schools themselves, teachers can step up, adapt, and completely change the way they teach so that their students can still have school remotely.
David said that the hardest part of teaching during this pandemic was that he didn’t like being the mask police.
“If I could go a day of teaching without begging students to put their masks on, up above their noses, that would be nice,” he said.
David said, “My classroom is a computer lab, and although I am ‘the expert’ in my room, these students can get the computers to come up with errors I have never seen before. And when asked how they did it, they almost always say, ‘I don’t know!’”
His advice to parents: “Talk to your students. I mean really talk to them. Show them that you really care about them and their friends.”
David hopes that his students remember him as being fair, and most of all, that he cared.
David’s advice to a new teacher starting out, “Be like the duck. Let all the hard times roll off of your back like water rolls off the duck’s back.”
The second part of the dynamic duo is Kathy Thacker. She also teaches at Spanish Fork Junior High but as the seventh grade College Career and Awareness and FACS Exploration teacher, as the eighth grade FACS Exploration teacher and as the ninth grade Sewing Construction and Textiles 1 teacher. She has been teaching for 16 years.
Kathy said, “I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was a kid, I wanted to teach Elementary school. I never expected to be a junior high teacher. Honestly, I don’t think that anyone ever dreams of teaching junior high, but I’m glad that is where I ended up. I think I was drawn to be a Family and Consumer Science teacher because my Grandma Sudweeks was a home economics teacher and my mom is an amazing seamstress.”
Kathy said this year has been a good reminder of the fact that there is so much more to education than just the content to be learned. And when asked about the hardest thing about teaching during this pandemic, her response was very similar to her husband, “I hate being the mask police! It’s not like me to be the naggy teacher, but I feel like I’m constantly nagging kids to put their masks on their faces and make sure their noses are covered.”
When I asked Kathy about some fun stories about teaching her response was, “There are so many! Check out #GottaLoveTeachingJrHigh on my Facebook.” And I can attest there are so many. One of my favorite things to do is read Kathy’s posts. She makes the hard job of teaching seem light and wonderful and oh so entertaining.
Her advice to parents, “Don’t just talk to your kids, actually really try to listen to what they have to say. Don’t just compare your teenage years to theirs and assume that you know what they are dealing with. These kids live in a very different world than you grew up in.”
Kathy hopes her students remember that she cared about them and treated them with kindness and respect. She hopes they remember that she worked to see the good in people and encouraged them to do the same.
Her advice to new teachers coming up, “Find ways to build relationships with your students. Kids are much more likely to want to learn the content you are trying to teach them if they know that you truly care about them. Sometimes the kids that are hardest to love are the kids who need the most love.”
When asked what it was like teaching at the same school as each other, both Dave and Kathy’s responses were not far off from each other.
Kathy’s response, “I love it, though I’m not sure that Dave always does. I think I drive him crazy sometimes because I have a tendency to share a lot more about our family than he does. Part of that is because the content that I teach. The fact that we teach the same students allows us to support each other, and work together to figure out the best ways to reach and teach our students. It’s great that we can carpool to school together, though if we ever have to drive different vehicles to school for any reason, people assume we are fighting.”
And of course Dave’s response, though very similar, was a little more in his line of thinking, technical and to the point, “Carpooling to work is nice. We know the same students, the same faculty members, and the same administration.”
Every year without fail, they talk about their “Date Night” at the school during Parent Teacher Conferences. (Gibson is a Serve Daily contributor.)