- Judson Independent School District
It's all about relationships to Ms. McDow
That is what matters to Ms. Sarah Witte McDow at Kitty Hawk Middle School.
“Kids don’t learn from everybody,” McDow said. “You have to have a relationship with them. You have to know who your kids are. You have to know what’s going on with them. Everybody has a story - you have to know what it is.”
It’s the relationships that she has built with her students, their parents, her colleagues, and in the community, that makes her a great educator.
“I want Kitty Hawk to be a successful place,” McDow said. “Middle school is tough under good circumstances.”
McDow started her career in education as a paraprofessional working with special needs students. It was that experience, and a colleague at that time, that pushed her to want to become a teacher with her own classroom.
“I worked one-on-one with this teacher, who was the ‘pied piper’ of teachers who work with special needs students,” McDow said. “I learned so much from her. She encouraged me. She’s the reason why I went into teaching.”
While a paraprofessional, she attended Texas State University, getting her degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. After she graduated, she began her teaching career at Kitty Hawk Middle School, where she has spent the last eight years.
“I really thought that I wanted to be in a different district, but when I got [to Kitty Hawk], I knew this was really where I wanted to be,” McDow said.
She is a “non-traditional” educator - she started her journey in education much later on in her life.
“I loved my job, working in a school and working with the teachers. But, I was old - people were retiring who were younger than me. So, being older, I thought ‘is it too late? Should I do it?’ And I did it. And it was the best decision of my life - to get my degree and end up [at Kitty Hawk],” McDow said.
She teaches 6th grade English. During her first years as a teacher, it was her other teachers and department head that help guide her to success.
“I’m lucky that the department chair here is so sharing with his stuff. He’s willing to show you how he does things,” McDow said. “He’s just the perfect department chair.”
Now a veteran on her campus, reflecting on her first year self, it’s the relationships you make with students that really makes the job worth it.
“I would tell myself to just breathe. It’s ok. And it’s all about relationships,” McDow said. “I spent so much time trying to figure out ‘how are they going to do this, how am I going to that?’ And really, it’s all about relationships.”
And to new teachers coming into the profession, she wants to ensure that they know they are needed, more now than ever before.
“I think that teachers are truly investing in our future,” McDow said. “I guarantee you that if we invest enough [in our community], it’s going to pay off in the future. It’s like putting money in the bank.”
As education goes through a cultural shift, she shared that it is important to have teachers that are invested in the community, invested into the school, invested in kids, and even invested in changing as the times change.
During this Teacher Appreciation Week, it is vital for us to realize the power of educators in our society, in our community, and in our district. And Judson ISD has some of the best teachers anyone can ask for, continuing to invest in our students.
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