Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Moncrief Teacher Finds Niche with School's `Difficult' Class

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Moncrief Teacher Finds Niche with School's `Difficult' Class

Article excerpt

Room 3 at Moncrief Elementary School looks a whole lot better

than it did two months ago.

On the walls are decorative mini-posters with math and writing

tips printed on birthday cakes and teddy bears. And taped on the

filing cabinet is a chart with colorful stars to map students'


But the aesthetics in Room 3 aren't the only changes that

excite its 24 second-graders.

The students are happy because they're being drilled on

spelling, phonics and vocabulary by their new permanent teacher,

Kim Smith.

In December, Smith, 23, a recent graduate of the University of

North Florida, accepted the offer to take the class in Duval

County that no one wanted to teach. Her first day was Jan. 5.

"The challenge motivates me," Smith said of the class that went

without a permanent teacher for nearly four months. ". . . These

students deserve to have a teacher who wants to be here. I've

wanted the opportunity to take a class that was difficult.

The students had at least six substitute teachers from the

start of the school year. Most teachers interviewed for the

full-time position didn't want to work at the school in an urban

neighborhood, Principal Gloriden Norris said.

Moncrief Elementary is on Moncrief Road, a haven for criminal

activity that is sometimes linked to the school.

After the Times-Union reported the lingering vacancy in

November, about 15 teacher candidates called Moncrief

Elementary, Norris said. She also received support from the

school system, which gave Moncrief a $75,000 grant for an

after-school tutorial program.

"The article sent out an awareness of how difficult it is to

hire at Moncrief," Norris said.

But Norris' prayers were answered when Smith decided to take

over Room 3. …

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