TOWAMENCIN- Many teachers often say that teaching is something they are born to do. For Family Consumer Science teacher Beth Light, teaching is something that is a part of her family, and she has been teaching since she was a little girl. Now, after 24 years, she will be retiring and starting a new chapter of her life.
“One of my favorite things my sister did was to make me little booklets to ‘play school.’ [My sister] seemed determined to teach me Spanish, so at the age of 5 and 6 she had me write the correct word next to the picture in my little book. [My sister] also taught me to say “Roses are Red, Violets are blue” in Spanish, which I can still recite today. I really enjoyed copying my sister and so I began to play school with my friends,” Light reflected.
After first tackling teaching as a child, Light moved on to get her teaching degree at Messiah College in FCS and then a masters degree at Wilkes University. She began teaching at a nursery school until a long-term substitute position became open at Pennbrook Middle School. One year after becoming a substitute for Pennbrook, Light was moved to teach at North Penn High School and has been there ever since. Light taught classes within the Child Development major including Preschool Laboratory and Independent Living.
“I love the connections the FCS Curriculum has to real life. I have to say, I have especially enjoyed working with the preschoolers, their parents, and the high school students in Preschool Lab Class. It is so amazing to watch the students learn to handle creating lessons and teaching the children. What a difference there is between learning strategies and techniques from a book and actually trying these out themselves! It’s great to see the growth as they learn by watching what works and what doesn’t and fine tuning what they do,” Light said.
Not only has Light been heavily invested in the Child Development major classes, but she also has been the advisor of the YEA Club (Youth Education Association).
“I have really enjoyed being an advisor for the YEA Club. It has been such a great group of students each year with lots of fun activities for children. I hope I have influenced some to pursue careers in education through these experiences,” Light commented.
After all of Light’s years of teaching, there have been some amazing moments to look back on.
“I had such a surprise one of those earlier years when I had three of my former preschoolers from my nursery school years in one Independent Living Class! I couldn’t believe it. It was like time lapse photography,” Light recalled.
Outside of North Penn, teaching has even spilled into Light’s everyday life. Said Light, “my whole world has sort of revolved around the joy of stumbling across items I could use as visuals for my lessons. Toy cars for the “Buying a Car” unit in Independent Living Class, pine cones and empty toilet paper rolls for future preschool lessons. It wasn’t unusual to have my husband pull over when we were driving somewhere and I saw something interesting I could use. Over the years I have collected quite a few ‘treasures’ that occupy our basement.”
Through lessons and examples in her class, Light has been able to teach her students and help them succeed, but sometimes the students teach the teacher.
“[Teaching high school students] has taught me that students learn best by ‘doing.’ I can share background knowledge, but the real learning takes place when they apply that to real life situations. Students want to do more when they are given the positive reinforcement that motivates them to succeed. I am so happy when I see a student who lacks confidence completes an activity and feels good about it. It’s rewarding to see some level of success with all my students, even if it is small,” reflected Light.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Light’s classes and teaching. No longer are students ‘doing’ in the classroom; instead, they are working from home on their computers.
“I was very worried about how distance learning would impact our Child Development classes, especially our Preschool Laboratory Classes. This is where the students work with community preschool children four days a week – planning and teaching them lessons. The students get very attached to their ‘little buddies’ and I was not sure how they would feel completing online work instead of this valuable interaction. However, they have done a wonderful job. Some have been keeping in contact with the children and the preschoolers love it. I don’t mind the distance learning, but I miss my students. I find that my grading takes extra long because I often write more comments than I would need to do, just to keep in touch. I get my energy being around people – especially my students. I love to see the growth in them throughout the year as they learn and apply this knowledge to real life situations. I’m so glad we had enough time this year for me to witness their growth,” stated Light.
Although this is not the way Light pictured here last year at North Penn to go, she is not quite done with teaching yet.
“[In retirement] I hope to be able to spend more time with my daughter and two grandsons in Canada and to be more of a part of their lives as they grow up. Part of me is waiting to see what other opportunities unfold. In the meantime, I will become more involved with the children at my church. Teaching is in my blood, so I can’t imagine it not playing a part of my future,” said Light.
Light’s time at North Penn is coming to a close and there are a few words she would like to leave with her coworkers and her students.
“First, I would like to thank [my coworkers] for all the support they have had over the years. Mrs. Noce has been an awesome head of our FCS Department and has challenged us as teachers to use our strengths and gifts to work with all the students’ lives that we touch. I would say that working together like this makes the strongest team,” said Light.
“To my students, learn about life from the preschoolers. They are so accepting and oblivious of others’ nationalities, genders, physical disabilities and imperfections. What matters most is a stimulating environment and the interest and interactions with others. The world could be a much better place if we could learn that from our children,” she concluded.