RICHLAND ONE EMPLOYEE PROFILE: District Induction Teacher of the Year Hannah Eck Teaches Her Students How to Take Ownership
Meadowfield Elementary School teacher Hannah Eck loves everything about second grade, from the curriculum to the way students in that grade level talk and play.
“I found myself speaking like a second-grader to friends my age. That’s how much I love teaching second grade,” said Eck, who is Richland One’s 2023-2024 Induction Teacher of the Year.
Eck is in her second year of teaching second grade at Meadowfield and in Richland One. She grew up in Lexington and was a Teacher Cadet in high school. Eck was named a South Carolina Teaching Fellow and studied early childhood education at the University of South Carolina. During her time in college, Eck interned at Brennen Elementary School and discovered how much she loved second grade.
She became interested in Meadowfield while touring the school because it’s a nationally accredited Paideia School. As a Paideia School, Meadowfield utilizes seminars and coached projects to teach students how to be critical thinkers as well as develop real-world skills to help them solve problems.
“I really love teaching the seminars. It really shows the kids how they can communicate with one another when there’s a disagreement,” said Eck.
She says second grade thrives off the resources the school provides to her, such as SMART Boards for visual classroom lessons.
“We have so many resources available and the freedom to use those resources however we like. If you need something, you’ll get it, especially if you have a good reason for it,” said Eck.
Even though her students are seven to eight years old, Eck stresses accountability and teaches them how to solve problems without fully relying on her. This applies to classroom lessons and simple tasks like getting a glue stick or returning a book to the library.
“I’m not going to repeat a direction if I’m only going to give it to students once. They need to find out how to do it, whether it’s asking a friend or looking around and using their context clues. It’s their job to take accountability,” she said.
One of the ways Eck teaches her students how to solve problems independently is by having some of them serve as tutors. For example, if a student gets their math assignment done correctly, Eck has them help other students in the class who may be struggling.
“By having a student’s classmate tutor them, it makes them feel more confident they can do the work. It also teaches students that they can help each other. They don’t always have to come to me for help. They can seek other places. This will help them when they get older because they’ll know to seek many resources if they need assistance. They don’t have to rely on just one resource,” said Eck.
She says the highlight of her time at Meadowfield so far has been seeing how much her first class grew throughout the school year.
“The way they grew from the start of the year, when they didn’t know how to be quiet or how to cut and glue down the right way, to the end of the year, when they’re finishing my sentences and gluing things down before I’ve even given a direction, is amazing,” said Eck.
She also wants students to be proud of the work they’ve done. Last year, Eck says she had a student who struggled with addition and subtraction. When she finally understood, the student told Eck she was proud of herself.
“When the students are proud of themselves, they’ll notice how much they’ve grown. I like to take the time to ask the students if they’re proud of themselves,” said Eck.
She takes the time to make sure students are proud of themselves. Every day before they leave the classroom, Eck has her approximately 20 students recite affirmation phrases, such as “I am creative” and “I am hard-working.” The phrases are Velcroed on the classroom’s door frame so that Eck can pull them off.
“My goal is that, by the end of the year, the students can pull them off themselves and say which phrase they feel connected to the most that day,” she said.
Eck says she loves working at Meadowfield because of the group of students she has and the diversity at the school.
“They’re just a great group of kids,” Eck said.
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