Teacher Tuesday: MCC’s Julie Meeker.

August 18, 2020

Teacher Tuesday: MCC’s Julie Meeker.

Teacher Tuesday is a presentation of Shelby State Bank, www.shelbystatebank.com.

By Kate Krieger, MCP Staff Writer.

SCOTTVILLE – Thirty years of teaching in west Michigan has molded Mason County Central teacher Julie Meeker into the educator she is today.

When I graduated from Central Michigan University in 1989, I began subbing as there were no teaching jobs in the area at that time,” she said. “I filled in for many teachers while they were on maternity leave or out on extended sick leave. I worked at Manistee Catholic Central and Ludington Area Catholic mainly. My first official teaching position was at LAC. I taught first grade, preschool and fourth grade. I then began a preschool position at Mason Central Eastern for a year before a kindergarten/preschool position became available at Mason County Central.”

She has been at MCC’s Scottville Elementary ever since.

“I team taught in second grade at MCC as well before becoming full time in kindergarten,” she said. “I have been at MCC for the past 21 years.”

Meeker is a native of Mason County, graduating from Ludington High School in 1984 and then moving on to seek her college degree in education.

“I then attended CMU for my undergraduate work, where I majored in math and minored in reading,” she said. “I graduated CMU in 1989. After officially teaching for a few years, I began my graduate work at Grand Valley State University, where I earned my master’s degree in early childhood education in 2003.”

Pretending to be a teacher at a young age, Meeker knew working with children was in her blood.

“I have always wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I used to play school with my siblings and friends, and I was the teacher most of the time. I have always enjoyed children. My main job throughout high school was babysitting. I watched children of various ages, but especially enjoyed the younger children and very young babies.”

Building relationships with her students and families has always been very important to Meeker and she believes it is an essential part of a child’s education, no matter what age they are.

“Getting to know students and their families is one of my favorite things about teaching,” she said. “Together we form a team and can watch a child bloom in personality, knowledge and confidence. Helping a child learn new things and seeing their ‘light bulb’ of knowledge turn on is so rewarding. Teaching the younger children is also great because on any given day their smile or their hug is uplifting and makes each day at school worth being there.”

Because early childhood education is very close to Meeker’s heart, she has one wish she would love to see come to life.

“If I could change one thing about teaching, it would be to find a way to get back to developmental teaching for our early childhood programs so that our kiddos feel less stressed.”

Teaching can come with many challenges and this past school year and the upcoming years have and will present a lot of new and interesting alterations to schools across the country.

During the COVID-19 school closure teaching was different in that we teachers were not physically with our class,” Meeker said. “There was a lot of work that went into organizing lesson plans, online learning and paper packets to distribute to families. This was all done very quickly as we all wanted to be sure that our families had things to help keep some structure in the days we spent at home. I myself had a lot of unfamiliar technology to learn to implement these plans. I did it and enjoyed it, but definitely missed seeing my students daily. The most important thing though, was making a connection and reaching out to all of our families to be sure they were ok and letting them know we were here to help if they needed it.”

Meeker wanted to make sure she continued working with families and keeping relationships strong during the pandemic during last school year and into this upcoming year. She is hopeful that students will be able to get back into the classrooms as much as possible to continue their education and to build those bonds with staff and other students.

“I am unsure what school will look like for this upcoming year,” she said. “I am truly hoping we will be face to face and can carry on instruction in our classrooms and also able to do that somewhat like we have in the past. I hope that families are staying healthy and making the most of their time with family.”

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