Teaching a dream come true for Brandi Erwin

Published 9:50 am Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NW0331 Teacher Of The Year Brandi Erwin B

For the past 16 years, Brandi Erwin has worked as a teacher at Harold McCormick Elementary, allowing her to realize her childhood dream.

The Elizabethton School Board recently recognized Erwin for her efforts by naming her the pre-K through fourth-grade Teacher of the Year for Harold McCormick.

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Erwin has taught fourth grade for the past three years, and taught third grade for the first 11 years of her teaching career.

“I knew what I wanted to be since I was a little girl,” Erwin said. “I would always play school with my dolls and everyone else. I knew from an early age what I would be.”

Erwin, a Carter County native, was influenced by several of her own elementary school teachers along the way on her road to becoming a teacher herself.

“Keith Hertzog, Brenda Hale and John Hyatt at Keenburg Elementary were some of the best teachers that I had while I was in school,” Erwing said. “They showed me what it meant to be a good teacher.”

Erwin finished at her elementary school years at Keenburg, and then moved on to Elizabethton High School. After that, she attended East Tennessee State University and after graduation returned to Elizabethton to become a teacher for the city schools.

Working with the students during the day is the highlight of her job as a teacher, Erwin said.

“The best time is just being in the room with the kids,” she said. “It is the time when there is not anything required out of them and it is just them being kids.”

In third grade, students start to attend classes with different teachers to get them used to the class structure in middle and high school. Erwin teaches the fourth-grade students at Harold McCormick in reading, writing and science. She said she looks for ways to incorporate the different subjects into the same lesson so the students are learning multiple things at once.

“I like to use a lot of hands-on projects,” Erwin said. “It is interesting to me to teach subjects as different as science and reading together.”

Erwin hopes she can pass her love of reading on to her students through the lessons in the classroom.

“I want for the children to love to read,” she said. “We read a lot of novels and for many of the students, they have never finished a chapter book before. They have such a sense of accomplishment when they are finished, and I hope that turns them on to reading more.”

Erwin’s colleagues at Harold McCormick nominated her for the Teacher of the Year honor. Erwin is a repeat winner, having previously won the honor in the 2005-2006.

“I was honored that my peers chose me for that,” Erwin said.

Erwin’s students agree with the decision to name their teacher the pre-K through fourth grade Teacher of the Year.

“She’s really nice and she takes care of us,” fourth-grader Bradley Cannon said. Morgan Heaton described Erwin as a great reading teacher. “She has stuff ready for us to do, and I like that,” Heaton said. “We have AR (accelerated reading) and she gives us time to do that. She gives us books to read and then we talk about them.”

For Lilly Vance, Erwin is a helpful teacher in the classroom.

“She is nice and understanding,” she said. “If you need help, she will help you. If you need her to slow down, she will. She fixes folders and binders if they are broken. She is a really good teacher.”