Six years on Central’s faculty have taught Chris Day, instructor of education, that she loves teaching, regardless of the students’ ages. After 21 years at the elementary and middle school levels, eight years as a public school administrator and 6 years as an administrator at Grant Wood Area Education Agency (AEA10), Day joined Central’s faculty in 2006.
“I enjoy the enthusiasm of the students, designing learning opportunities for them and seeing their learning come alive,” says Day. “I have worked hard at building that relationship between teacher and student.”
Day discovered her passion for teaching mostly by accident. When she was a student at Drake University, she had no initial plans to become a teacher. But after being exposed to the profession by teaching Sunday school classes, she came to realize that not only was she good with kids, but she loved the creativity required to make a lesson effective for so many different students.
Even at the college level, a classroom will boast students with any number of learning styles. Luckily, Day’s wealth of experience has become as asset for Central students. She can turn her firsthand knowledge into lessons for prospective teachers. “Many times it is as simple as telling them, ‘You know, I tried this once and it didn’t work. I would advise avoiding it,’” she says with a laugh.
With teaching experience ranging from kindergarten through middle school, Day has had a broad spectrum of knowledge to pass on to Central students. She has regularly taught the middle school methods course and added others spanning from mathematics to reading. While she currently is working with middle and secondary education majors, she has also prepared elementary education students. “I’ve been able to share a lot of experiences with students here at Central, and I hope they’ve spent some time reflecting on them,” she says.
Retiring in May, Day says the chance she’s had to impact students’ lives has been the most rewarding part of her career. Like a true teacher, she’s appreciative of the awards and distinctions she’s received but is more motivated by the achievements of her students.
She has particularly enjoyed supervising student teachers, helping them learn to lead a classroom themselves. With stringent licensure regulations for Iowa educators, Day has made it her goal to prepare them for a lifetime of teaching. “They leave here with skills and knowledge, but they also know they have a lot to learn,” she explains.
Though Day looks forward to spending more time visiting her grandchildren during retirement, she plans to maintain contact with the educational realm. She will continue to train teacher evaluators through the AEA and has plans to do school-improvement consulting. Central students will still be able to enjoy the benefit of her expertise, as she will also continue supervising Central student teachers.
After all, her years of service have taught her that she can never completely walk away from her role. It’s a lifelong title. “It’s a long-term profession. I’ll always be a teacher,” she says.