Mathematics Teacher, G.W. Carver Middle School, Chester, VA
- Powhatan High School, Powhatan County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Early Childhood Education I and II; Dual Enrollment Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow Honors
- Additional studies: Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies, Elementary and Middle School Education with a Mathematics concentration, Algebra 1 endorsement, Longwood University
Turning tutoring into teaching
by Jessica Sabbath
With a knack for mathematics, Megan Prillaman often helped her high school classmates who struggled with the subject. I was pretty much tutoring the kids that didn’t understand the math problems, because I understood them so quickly. Math was easy for me,” says Megan.
A Career and Technical Education teacher encouraged her to explore a teaching career by taking early child- hood education courses in high school. “I tried it, and I loved it,” she says.
After just a month in her education classes, she was hooked. Megan visited several classrooms as part of her high school courses and even had the opportunity to teach some lessons. “Observing the classroom connected the dots between how much I enjoyed tutoring and how I could apply that to what I do every day,” Megan says. “I didn’t realize I could make a career of it.”
During her senior year, Megan took Dual Enrollment Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow Honors. The course allowed her to start Longwood University with three credits that would count toward her major.
Now in her second year of teaching mathematics at Carver Middle School in Chesterfield County, Megan feels well prepared for her career.
She enjoys teaching middle school students. “I wanted to make sure I could catch students early enough where I could still make a difference as to whether or not they enjoyed math,” says Megan.
Megan also engages with her students beyond the classroom. Each week, a group of Carver teachers provide homework help to students at a low-income apartment community close to the school. “The tutoring is a more informal way of teaching,” Megan says. “I’ve been able to make genuine connections with students that way.
Kindergarten Teacher, Chesterbrook Elementary School, McLean
- Yorktown High School and Arlington Career Center, Arlington County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Early Childhood, Education, and Services I and II
- Additional studies: Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Early and Elementary Education; Master of Teaching, Virginia Commonwealth University
Pursuing her teaching dream
by Jessica Sabbath
From the time she was 5 years old, Carinda Soulos was reading to her stuffed animals and playing “school” with them in her bedroom.
As she got older, Carinda spent her summer vacations holding classes in her basement for her cousins and sisters, even assigning homework and having parent-teacher conferences. “I’ve always loved kids and always had a passion for it,” says Carinda.
So it was a natural decision for her to take education courses at the Arlington Career Center, where she had the opportunity to work in preschool and elementary school classes. Those classes helped solidify her interest in teaching younger children.
“The career center allowed me to make sure that teaching was what I wanted to do before I went to college,” says Carinda. “I didn’t have to spend a year deciding what I wanted to do with my life. I think it was good for me that I could gear all of my college classes toward my major.”
Carinda was able to attend a 5-year education program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Now she is a kindergarten teacher at Chesterbrook Elementary School in McLean. She enjoys teaching kindergarten, even though the first month is spent helping kids – and nervous parents – adjust to the new setting. “The first month of school is pretty much teaching the students the routines, the procedures, and the rules,” says Carinda.
Carinda also loves how different her job is each day. “No day is the same in my classroom,” she says. “I have no idea how my day’s going to go … what tantrums may arise, what accidents may happen. It keeps it exciting.”
Fifth Grade Language Arts and History Teacher, Union Hall Elementary School, Chatham
- Dan River High School, Pittsylvania County Public Schools
- Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow
- Additional Studies: Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies for Elementary Education, Hampton University
Inspiring the future
by Veronica Garabelli
Tamela Warren was unsure of her career path until her senior year of high school.
“I was between nursing and teaching, but after enrolling and taking the Teachers for Tomorrow program, I decided that teaching was what I really wanted to do and had a passion for,” she says.
Through Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow, a program that recruits high school students to become teachers, Tamela first experienced teaching. She says the class taught her to be innovative and think outside the box, skills she uses today as a fifthgrade teacher at Union Hall Elementary School in Ringgold. Her innovation paid off last year, for example, when she and co-worker Mindy Takacs won a $13,000 “teacher creativity” grant from the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce to buy iPads for their classrooms.
Tamela majored in Interdisciplinary Studies for Elementary Education at Hampton University where she was a student teacher and also a substitute teacher. Shortly after graduating in 2011 she landed her job at Union Hall Elementary School and has been teaching about 20 students a year ever since.
“My favorite part about my job is building student-teacher relationships to help me connect with each student individually so I’m better able to help every student succeed,” says Tamela, who tries to teach her fifth-grade students responsibility, accountability, and organization before they head to middle school.
In the future, Tamela envisions joining school administration. She wants to become a principal and eventually, a superintendent. She advises high school students who want to follow in her footsteps to be passionate about teaching and to not be afraid to stand out from the pack. “We all have various talents and strengths, and we have to capitalize on our own talents to do our jobs to the best of our ability,” she says.
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