POCA — On Monday, fourth-grade teacher Rebecca Grantham found herself doing something a little unorthodox: She was converting math problems into the written word for a student who excels at reading, but was struggling a bit at math.
In fact, Grantham said she finds this to be one of the hardest parts about teaching — trying to find the best ways to help a room full of diverse students learn a variety of subjects.
“You have to sit down with each child, because they are all different,” Grantham said. “It’s mainly about building a relationship with the child, finding out what their likes and dislikes are...you know who your readers are, and who your math whizzes are, and then figuring out how to help each of them learn.”
This dedication, in part, is why, on Friday, Sept. 27, Grantham was named the Farmers Bank Favorite Elementary Teacher in Putnam County. The contest is based on nominations and votes from community members.
One of the people who nominated Grantham for the award wrote, “Rebecca Grantham goes above and beyond for her students. She stays at the school hours after all the other teachers have gone home for the day and is even there most weekends. She’s grading papers, organizing her classroom, working on lesson plans, or coming up with fun activities for the kids. Every time I have been at the school, all I see are smiling faces running up to give her a hug. She cares for each child as if they were her own.”
Grantham, who said she was very surprised to learn she had been named Favorite Elementary Teacher, said her strategy of writing out the math problems for her student on Monday was successful, leading to her favorite part about teaching:
“I would say my favorite thing about teaching is just, seeing the kids light up, their faces light up when they finally figure out how to do something that we’ve been doing. Or when they say they can’t write, then they write this amazing story — just the look on their face is priceless, like, ‘I did that?’ I just love to see them succeed and excel and catch on to things.”
Grantham said she wanted to be a teacher even as a little girl. “I would teach my doll babies,” she said, laughing. But in college, she lost her confidence a bit and changed her major to business, beginning her working life as an accountant.
“After doing accounting for four years, I realized, I want to be a teacher,” Grantham said. “I’ve always loved being around kids. I love reading, and math...I just love school and everything about school.”
Grantham spent most of her 22-year teaching career in Mississippi, moving to Putnam County six years ago. She said it was the best decision of her life.
“Of course, it was scary just to move here, period. When I moved here, I was told Putnam County is the best county, so I said, that’s where I’m going to work. My mother lived in Poca, so we lived with her for a year. I went to Poca Elementary, visited with the principal and she showed me around the school. I fell in love with the school, and I went home and told my mom I’m going to work there. I even had my whole church praying for me.”
It worked — Grantham has been at Poca for six years and says she couldn’t be happier.
“I absolutely have been blessed,” she said. “Poca is very special — its families and students and the community — it’s really a special school. Everybody is family there. Poca is a wonderful place to work. The teachers and students are the best.”
Grantham received a gift basket and certificate from Farmers Bank on Friday. This was the first of three contests the bank is sponsoring for Putnam County teachers. Voting for the Favorite Middle School Teacher is underway. To vote, go to https://hdmediallc.secondstreetapp.com/Farmers-Bank-Top-Middle-School-Teachers-Ballot/gallery. Voting closes for the Middle School Teacher on Oct. 18.