Teacher Feature: Coleman sets foundation with first graders

Published 7:59 pm Saturday, April 14, 2018

Tamesha Coleman knew at an early age she wanted to be in front of a classroom one day.

She started out like many others, lining up her dolls as a child and teaching them make believe lesson plans.

In ninth grade, Coleman’s teacher, Patricia Hardwick, let her teach her peers lessons, solidifying her desire to teach for a career.

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“I always wanted to be a teacher as a little girl. I was inspired by my mother [Gwendolyn Colman] and my high school English teacher,” Coleman said.

“She would allow me to get in front of the class and teach lessons. That was an experience for me.”

Coleman is now a first-grade teacher at Edgewood Elementary School where she has proudly taught for 14 years in the same room at the same school.

Coleman also had a love of acting, and originally started out as a theater major at Alabama State University, but soon changed to education.

“I always wanted to be either a teacher or an actress. My mom told me that I can always use my acting skills in the classroom, and that’s what I do,” Coleman said.

“To keep my kids engaged, I bring real life situations into the classroom.”

One way she does that is with food. While teaching her kids different shapes, she used Ritz Crackers for an example of a circle, and a wafer for a rectangle.

“I love it. My goal is first, to teach them the content area that is required. Then for them to focus on who they are and what they want to become,” Coleman said. “I try to show them how to become productive citizens.”

Coleman said teaching first grade is important for the future of the students.

“I really feel like first grade is that foundational grade and it starts with me,” Coleman said. “That’s why, even though they’re in the first grade, I’m very firm with my students. To keep them interested, you have to be fun, firm and fundamental.”

Coleman said after teaching for 14 years, she is coming up on her third class of students graduating from high school.

“I tell them when they’re in the first grade, when you become a senior, come back to Ms. Coleman, I just might have something for you,” she said.

“I set aside funds, just so I can give them something at graduation.”

So far, she’s had a few to come back, and she does her best to attend their graduation and cheer them on.

“It is so amazing [to see them graduate],” Coleman said. “I consider all of them my kids.”