Takira McMillan is the Math Lead at Cherry Hill Elementary. She has worked for the school system for over 12 years, having spent the majority of those years teaching at the elementary school she attended as a student, Liberty Elementary.
Who or what motivated you to become a teacher?
I have always had a love for learning. In my early elementary school years, my teachers nurtured that love. My 4th Grade teacher, Mrs. Murdock, and my 5th-grade teacher, Mrs. Wilson, were my inspiration. Once I decided to be an educator, I knew I wanted to work in Baltimore City. My motivation behind that was to be a role model for children. Working at Liberty Elementary, the school that I attended as a student, allowed me to connect with the students on a personal level. Growing up in the same neighborhood and walking the same school halls made my years there as an educator very special.
What does your job as Math Lead entail?
My job as a Math Lead entails holding academic planning meetings and coaching teachers by modeling lessons and/or co-teaching. I provide students with strategies and best practices that they can implement in class. I also see myself as a support system outside of math content. Mental health is important to me. Teachers must fill their cups up before they can pour into anyone else. I am there as a listening ear and a source of encouragement when needed.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
I love working with teachers that are excited about the work. I also love those teachers who are skeptical, but then have that a-ha moment. When I see strategies being implemented and see their impact, it’s exciting. While my main focus is on the teacher, I love going into classrooms and co-teaching and modeling. I love the student interactions. Seeing students have that a-ha moment is a joyful feeling.
What other roles do you play in your school?
At my school, I also assist with technology, and I’m one of the site test coordinators. Since I am in a new school this year that has different after school options for students, I plan to start an after school math club. I want to build relationships with the students in the community as well as the teachers.
The theme of this issue is “Weathering the Storm.” What are some “storms” you have had to weather during your teaching career and how did you survive them?
Throughout my career, I have had to weather storms that sometimes looked as if I wouldn’t make it out. I was taught by my former principal, Joseph Manko, that analyzing data is key to planning and making changes. However, sometimes looking at data and seeing your scholars are below grade level is daunting. Sometimes you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Each year when I see a new set of challenges, I overcome them! My love, dedication, and passion for the work show through my ability to move students in the right direction. We (my students and I) weather the storm and persevere through the challenges we face.
Why is being a BTU member important to you?
The BTU has been amazing. It’s nice to know that there are people fighting for me as an educator. One of my first statements to a new teacher is to be sure to join the BTU.