WINSTON-SALEM — When school started Monday, there were more than 200 new faces at the front of classrooms throughout the district.
Two-hundred and two teachers, new to the district, completed orientation last week andwelcomed students on the first day.
And when they wrote their names on the chalkboard for students that first day, two of those teachers wrote the same thing: Mayfield. What sets the two first-year teachers apart is the letter ‘r’ and about 30 years.
Pam and Katie Jo Mayfield — Mrs. Mayfield and Miss Mayfield, respectively — are more than just two new teachers with a last name in common. They’re mother and daughter who have taken different routes following their passion for teaching, but ended up in the same place — the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system.
Katie Jo, 21, a Mount Tabor High School graduate, took the more direct path. Though she entered Elon University as a political science major, she changed to English with a focus on education after her first year. It wasn’t easy, she said, to fit in all the credits needed for her new major in three years but she did it and graduated this spring.
The plan wasn’t necessarily to return to the school system from which she graduated. Katie Jo said she sent resumes all over the state, but when it came down to it Winston-Salem is home and it’s made the transition much easier.
“It just worked out that way,” she said. “There’s a degree of wanting to give back. I had such a good experience (in the district).”
For Pam, the route to finally fulfilling her dream of being a teacher — one she’s harbored since grade school — was more circuitous.
“I’m a late bloomer,” she said, joking.
Pam, 50, graduated from what was then Elon College in 1985 with a degree in business and marketing. She worked in marketing for the financial industry before leaving the field to raise her two children. When they started school, she volunteered in their classrooms. She started taking shifts as a substitute teacher and eventually worked as a teacher assistant.
While she had thought about going back to school, it was the encouragement of the teachers and principals she worked with and the support of her family that finally pushed her to take the leap. Pam enrolled at Salem College in 2010.
“It was very intimidating,” Pam said of returning to school. “I put it off for years because I was scared.”
She started slow, with just one night class. That technology class was a struggle, she said, so much so that she almost didn’t finish.
“I wanted to quit,” she said. “But my son said to me, ‘You never let us quit.’”
With some help from Katie Jo — who herself had just switched majors and decided on teaching — Pam got through that first class and eventually the entire program.
Pam took over a fourth-grade class at Ibraham Elementary in January, finishing the year for another teacher. On Aug. 26, she’ll finally get her own class, teaching third grade at Ibraham.
She wanted to teach elementary school, Pam said, to engage young students, instill a love of reading and help foster lifelong learners. It was that quality in her own life that got her where she is.
“I’ve had to be a lifelong learner,” she said, “going back after more than 25 years.”
About 30 minutes after Pam gets her class started, Katie Jo will welcome in her first class as well. A lover of literature, Katie Jo will teach ninth- and 10th-grade English at West Forsyth High School. There, Katie Jo said she hopes to pass on her passion for literature and serve as a positive role model.
Sitting next to each other all week at new teacher orientation, both women admit it’s a little unusual to have mother and daughter starting their careers on the same day. But, it’s been nice, too, they said.
“With all of these (firsts) it’s been reassuring to have someone to share the experience with,” Katie Jo said.
“We both have the passion,” Pam added.
Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com