October 14, 2013

Teaching wasn’t her first calling, but her son changed her mind

October 14, 2013 Kristin Finney The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Being named the teacher of the year for your school is a proud accomplishment for any teacher. Being named the system wide teacher of the year is an even bigger accomplishment. That honor was recently bestowed upon Billie Ann Page, a teacher at Sallas Mahone Elementary School.

During the annual teacher of the year banquet, Page was chosen from a group of nine teachers of the year to go on to represent Valdosta City School’s at the state level as system wide teacher of the year.

Unlike many teachers, Page did not aspire to be a teacher when she grew up. She had always loved to learn, but believed that she wanted to be a journalist.  It wasn’t until her son Dalton was born that her love for learning was reignited.

“It was after having my son that I began remembering how I fell in love with learning as a young child, and I wanted the same for him. As my son’s first teacher, I realized my calling in life... seeing the light go off and seeing him learning something new was amazing. I have a passion for teaching my students to do what they thought they couldn’t,” said Page.  

Page attended college at Valdosta State University. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education in 1995 and her Masters in Accomplished Teaching in 2010. She also received her reading endorsement from Georgia State University.

In 1995, Page began teaching at Sallas Mahone Elementary. From 1995 to 2005, she taught first grade, all subjects. From 2005 to 2010, she taught reading recovery and one on one and small group reading instruction, then from 2010-2012 she taught third grade, all subjects. Last year, Page was an intervention specialist for first, second and third graders, helping them in reading and math.

Currently, Page is an intervention specialist for first and second graders in reading and writing and she also works with the school speech pathologist in managing the school’s student support team program. As an intervention specialist, Page works with first and second grade students needing additional support in reading and writing.

After 19 years of teaching, many teachers could get worn out or not be as excited for school each day. This is not the case for Page.

 “I stay driven because of the students I teach. When they need you, it drives you to keep going. That’s why I am here. That’s why all teachers should be here.”

She also credits her continued drive to the great people that she works with.

“I am thankful everyday for my job. Valdosta is a great system and Sallas Mahone is a great school. The teachers, parents and children here are awesome. When you are around people that challenge you, you’re going to improve, and that happens a lot here,” said Page.

“I have been asked why I work so hard and where I get my energy to do it. For me, teaching is not a job but instead a calling in which I get as much as I give. Student enthusiasm and growth in learning are the fuel that keeps me going and inspires me. Basically, I need my students as much as they need me,” Page wrote in her teacher of the year application.

This is not Page’s first time receiving the teacher of the year title. She was also named teacher of the year for Sallas Mahone for 2002-2003. In the 11 years since she was last honored, she has not lost her desire to see her students succeed.

“My favorite part of teaching is teaching kids to read, especially those who need additional support with reading. To see a student when they get to the point they can read more easily, there is nothing like that,” said Page. “The hardest part is wanting to do more than you can. They leave to go home or leave for summer vacation and they are still on your mind. You truly feel connected to them and it is hard to let go.”

As the system wide teacher of the year, Page will go on to represent Valdosta City Schools at the state level and will also be in the running for the state teacher of the year.

“I am so honored. I’ll do my best, just like I did for the teacher of the year application. I am so proud to represent this system. There are so many awesome teachers that deserve this,” she said.

“My greatest accomplishments lie in the everyday moments I get to live with my students. My goal of teaching is to inspire students to be life-long learners. I facilitate independent thinking and problem solving while building on and valuing the unique strengths, interests, and personalities of my students,” said Page in her application.  

After being named the system wide teacher of the year, Page was thrilled.

She said, “I hardly slept the night of the banquet. I am still on a cloud and haven’t really grasped it yet. I feel like there is a reason and a purpose why I’m here and that God put me right where I needed to be. I am so honored and everyone has been so nice. Someone came up to me earlier and asked how I felt, and I didn’t know what to say. I just said, ‘I am just doing my job.’”

Page and her husband, Mike Page, have two children, Dalton, 23, and Madison, 15.

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