Educator Spotlight: MCC’s Sarah Matthews.

May 29, 2022

Educator Spotlight: MCC’s Sarah Matthews.

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, Staff Writer.

Educator Spotlight is a presentation of is a presentation of Smith & Eddy Insurance, with offices in Scottville and Manistee, offering discounts for MEA members and school employees.

SCOTTVILLE – Sarah Matthews has been in education for almost 20 years, the last 13 as a full time teacher at Mason County Central. A 1999 graduate of Ludington High School, Mathews said she didn’t have a specific time when she knew she wanted to get her teaching degree, but she had a specific people.

“It’s not necessarily what made me decide to go into education, but who,” Mathews said. “I was lucky enough to have DeAnne Nordine as a teacher in third and sixth grades. She taught with the perfect balance of sharing her kindness, creating fun, and holding her students accountable. She is the teacher I strive to be most like. As a junior in high school, I was given a chance to join Kathleen Radtke’s first grade class as a cadet. She allowed me to work with her students in reading and that is when I realized how much I enjoyed working with kids and seeing their faces when they understood. I appreciate the trust she put in me.”

Mathews graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in English/language arts and elementary education and then received a master’s of science degree in education in 2012. For the majority of her career, she has worked at Mason County Central Schools, severing as an educator in many different capacities.

“I have been an official employee at MCC Schools for 13 years, but began here as a long term substitute teacher in second and then first grades,” she said. “After I was hired in, I continued to teach first grade, was laid off for the better part of a year, moved to kindergarten, fifth grade, and then found my ‘home’ in the fourth grade. I have also coached middle school sideline cheerleading at Ludington for two seasons. I also coached middle school competitive cheer for six years as well as being the secretary of the MCC Elementary schools PTC.”

Teaching fourth grade has a lot of positive aspects because the students are still young enough to enjoy school, while being able to complete tasks on their own, Matthew said. 

“I have been teaching fourth grade for eight years. I teach all subjects, but what I find most fun about this grade level is that fourth graders are still young enough to have fun while learning, but are gaining independence simultaneously. Their personalities really start to shine through at this age and they are so much fun to teach. Beyond the curriculum, I try to instill a sense of kindness and community in my students and in my classroom. My hope is that these life long lessons carry with them beyond our classroom walls.”

Instilling manners, good morals and over-all positivity in her students, Mathews said creating those relationships that really have nothing to do with everyday learning, but more about being good people is what she enjoys so much about being a teacher.

“My favorite thing about teaching is the relationships I build with my students and the community that is created in my classroom,” she said. “It is always bittersweet at the end of year when we have to say see you later. I am at the point in my career now that I have former students who come back to my room to visit. It is always wonderful to see them and catch up. It’s an amazing feeling to know you have made a positive impact in their lives, almost as much as they have impacted yours. I enjoy following my former students’ successes. I am always rooting for each and every one of them and cheering them on in whatever they choose to do. I love to bring magic and hope to all of my students. I allow and encourage  them to dream big dreams and do anything they can to achieve them.”

Above everything else, Mathews said she believes that her most important role is to make her students feel that they are important and cared about, but also safe.

“If I could change anything about education in today’s society, it would be that all students feel safe at school,” she said. “My advice for future teachers is to build strong relationships with your students. They will learn best when they feel loved and safe.”

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