Page 21 - Salem Magazine Spring 2014
P. 21

  another with respect, and I try to never forget that I am taking care of someone else’s children.”
Our Schools
By the time she and her husband, Jack, arrived in Salem in 1996, she had left the classroom to raise their four children. She did some tutoring and eventually began helping as a substitute teacher at all of Salem’s six schools. Fourteen years ago, she returned to the classroom full-time in the Salem School Division as a third grade teacher and she’s been shaping young lives ever since.
never left me, plus I always loved school.”
At Carver, Hughes believes she is truly making a difference in the lives of young
Hughes has taught third graders at G.W. Carver Elementary for the past 14 years and she considers that somewhat ironic since that particular age group was by far her favorite during her year-long student teaching requirement as an undergraduate in college.
“I love that third graders are still very excited about learning, and I enjoy the curriculum,” she says. “Even
though it is quite rigorous, most students
achieve great success and growth, which is
“I always wanted to be a teacher,” she says. “I think all little girls play and pretend to be teachers and it just
 very rewarding.”
Third grade is the first year in which
“G.W. Carver provides the perfect climate
 students actually receive letter grades in the classroom and experience the SOL tests. It’s also a time when Hughes works extremely hard to build self-confidence in her young pupils.
for any student,” she says. “It is a beautiful, spacious school with a very caring and diverse group of people. We have a supportive administration and staff members who truly care about what is best for our children.”
“Third graders are still young enough to where they want to please you all the time, yet they can be very independent at this age,” she says. “Sometimes they are very afraid of the third grade and it’s my job to show them they can do it and that everything is going to be alright.”
Debbie Hughes Husband: Jack Children: Robert, Annie, Jackie, and Johnny – all SHS Graduates
Debbie is a volunteer at the Clothes Closet and an active member at Salem’s First United Methodist Church
Hughes is a firm believer in the African Proverb that says “It Takes a Village” to raise a child and she credits not only the administration, but her fellow third grade teachers.
Hughes was born in West Virginia, but spent most of her life in Arlington before she headed off to college and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Virginia Tech.
“Mrs. May, Mrs. Raines, Mrs. Travitz, and I have worked together for six years now and we collaborate daily sharing ideas, successes, and frustrations,” she says. “As a team we produce tremendous results and do all we can to bring out the best in our students.”
with the assistant superintendent in Warren
County, the Special Ed. Supervisor overheard
our conversation as I was talking about my interest in special education and my work at Camp Easter Seals,” she says. “They were desperate for special ed. teachers back then and they hired me without a degree and then paid for me to get my Master’s in special education.”
“Debbie has been an asset to the third grade team at Carver from the beginning,” says Joe Coleman, G.W. Carver Principal. “With 25
Hughes would teach during the day and then ride with other teachers back and forth from Front Royal to James Madison University to take classes at night. She did the majority of her course work at JMU and then finished her requirements and graduated from Marymount University in Arlington. After a couple of years instructing 7th and 8th grade special education in Warren County she taught middle school special ed. students in Fairfax before eventually moving to Salem.
The administration at Carver has high praise for Hughes’ creativity and flexible thinking as well as her exemplary professionalism and her desire to follow her students’ successes as they move forward.
years of experience, her knowledge of curriculum, differentiation, developmental needs of children and her true understanding of special education provide the foundation needed to effectively reach all students.”
“There are days I can sense my students are just not with me and then there are times when I am teaching and all eyes are on me and hands are raised with enthusiasm to answer questions or to give some input into a discussion,” she says. “That’s when I stop and think that this is a wonderful job and I truly love it.”
                                   Grant Smythers
Salem High School Physical Education
Sandra Kelley
South Salem Elementary Third Grade
Marcie Atkins
West Salem Elementary Fourth Grade | SPRING 2014

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