10 Country: Peggy's Old School Ways - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Peggy's Old School Ways

January 25, 2007

Turner Co. -- Some people believe public schools should go back to the good old days of strict discipline, back to the days of high expectations. At Turner County Elementary School one teacher brings those days back.

Sometimes finding the key to unlock a child's mind takes a special type of person. And, when the mind opens, it's like night turning into day, as Peggy Shivers knows all too well. An educator who knows her top priority.  "You think of the children first," says Peggy.

Students know clearly where they stand with her. "In fact, I'm disappointed in you," says Peggy to a student who disrupted her thinking. He got the message. Peggy Shivers comes from the old school where rules are rules.  "I'm of the opinion that we all know the rules. We are told the rules everyday. We go over the rules everyday. And, the choice is ours to make. And if we choose not to follow those rules, then we should suffer the consequence."  

"I left my homework at home," says Mary Rachel Warren, a 5th grader sent to Peggy. It was her first visit to her class called ISS for in school suspension.

Some students spend their lunch time working on homework while they eat, as Peggy helps them to catch up. They eat first and then do their work as she answers any questions they might have.

Besides teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, she teaches them worldly lessons the easy way. "You should put your mind in gear before you put your mouth in motion," says Jasmine Terrell, another 5th grader, who looks at Peggy as more than a teacher.  "She is kind of like a mother," says Jasmine, who talks with Peggy frequently about growing up.

Surprisingly, Peggy is an encouraging mother, underneath her tough love approach.  "She tells you nice things," says Jasmine.

A mother figure who makes learning multiplication tables easy. "Five, 10, 15, 20, 30," says Peggy, as she sings a song while using her fingers to remember the multiplication table.

Education in her classroom includes an emphasis on respect for others.  "I don't say the children love me. The children tolerate me. Most of them listen to me and I listen to them in turn," says Peggy, who finds personal respect generates more personal respect.

Every school day at Turner County Elementary School, she works with some of the most challenging students, those with behavioral and discipline issues in what you could call a one-room school.

A kindergartner needs help with math.  "Now, we're going to have to add this," says Peggy gently to the little fellow. And she stays close to offer encouragement.  "Children need someone," says Peggy.

A fifth grader needs help with English, and Peggy helps her almost immediately.  "Time is not a factor with me," says Peggy. The only time she watches a clock involves teaching how to tell time.  She doesn't expect perfection from young people. "If you stumble, hey call me again," Peggy tells a student.

She wants them to answer the bell of life to go out and win. Peggy Shivers has spent a quarter of a century with the school system.


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