JES preschool teacher's passion for the classroom helps students succeed

JES preschool teacher's passion for the classroom helps students succeed

At 17, Pamela Akemon watched as her sister had to relearn the basic life skills — writing, driving, and even eating. Her sister was in an automobile accident, which left her sister paralyzed.

“I watched her push through every hurdle that stood in her way, and while she may do things a little differently, she is able to do just about everything she could do before,” Akemon said.

The adaptations and changes her sister had to make to her life left a profound impact on Akemon’s life.

“She drives an adapted vehicle, she is a beautiful artist, she works full-time, and has never let anything hold her back,” Akemon said. “Watching her reminds me that my students are capable of doing anything they set their minds to, and just because I may have an idea of how to get there doesn’t mean it is the only way to get there.”

The preschool teacher at Johnson Elementary School uses the example of her sister’s courage and strength and applies it to the way she teaches her students.

“When I see a student struggling with something, I look at it as though I need to adjust something. I need to help them find another method, another avenue, another resource to get them to where they want and need to be before going into Kindergarten,” Akemon said.

From the time Akemon was 5-years-old, she was passionate about education. She would sit in her closet and play school with her imaginary friends.

“I loved school,” Akemon said. “As I grew older, my resolve to become a teacher grew stronger.”

During her senior year at Scottsburg High School, she was given her first official taste of being in front of the classroom by teaching French to first-grade students at Vienna-Finley Elementary School.

“I loved it. At that point, I was convinced I wanted to teach first grade,” Akemon said.

At Hanover College, Akemon continued her refinement as a teacher and took every opportunity offered to work with children.

“In college, every opportunity I had in the classroom became the new grade I wanted to teach,” Akemon said. “I worked as a volunteer at Girls Inc. in Madison for two years, and my certainty that I was pursuing the right degree grew. I knew I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.”

After graduating college, Akemon was unable to immediately take a full-time job in the classroom because she was pregnant with her son, Xavier, who is a seventh-grade student at Scottsburg Middle School.

“I knew starting a school year on maternity leave would not be beneficial to the students or the school system,” Akemon said. “So, I signed up to sub at SCSD2.”

After Akemon gave birth to her son and was a substitute teacher for less than one year, she was approached by the special services director about the teacher of record position for the special services preschool. As the preschool teacher, she worked in the mornings and was substitute teaching in the afternoons at Scott County School District 2. Just three months after taking the job, she was offered the supervisor position at special services.

“I fell in love with my job. I was responsible for these wonderful, little children who had individualized needs,” Akemon said. “My job was to work with these students, help them grow, develop, and reach their potential. Some of the students I have for three years, some only two years, but every one of them steals my heart.:

Four years later, Akemon’s preschool program was moved from Kids Place to JES. She worked for special services until 2008, and she began working at Johnson Elementary School two years later in the preschool classroom.

“Getting the call from Kids Place was probably my defining moment that led me in this direction. I never would have thought about working with [this] age group before then,” Akemon said. “Preschool is now my passion. I love watching my students grow. I love celebrating their accomplishments, helping them meet their goals, and seeing their journey on their way to Kindergarten. I give them structure, routine, compassion, and love.”

As a preschool teacher, Akemon is dedicated to her students and is passionate about preschool and primary education.

“I wanted to reach them, and help build the foundation of their education. I believed, and still believe today, that at the elementary level, we are building the foundation that will hold the infrastructure of knowledge these students will carry with them their whole lives,” Akemon said. “That my job as a teacher is to reach every child no matter the challenge and help them learn.”

Not only did her sister’s testimony of determination and hard work impact her life, but Akemon’s students have changed her life and the way she sees the world.

“In the years I have been teaching, I have lost two students,” Akemon said.

One of her students, who was 4-years-old, died from complications of pneumonia, and another 5-year-old student died from a recurrence of cancer.

“When I think of both of them, I remember all the things they taught me about life. I smile at the memories I have of them. Sometimes, I will have students, and little things that student does will remind me of them. They are always there in my mind just like many of my other students,” Akemon said. “I cherish all my students. I celebrate every accomplishment they make no matter how big or small. I push them to exceed expectation and grow to their potential.”

The students are not the only ones learning in Akemon’s classroom.

“I know that when I am standing in front of my classroom, my students are not the only ones learning. They teach me every day how to see the world in new ways. I honestly think each and every one of them make me a better person and a better teacher.”

Akemon is changing her student’s lives as much as they change hers. With her passion, her positivity, and her willingness to help her students reach their potential, Akemon is setting up her students for success. At Scott County School District 2, Akemon’s story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.