‘Teacher of the Week’ left private-sector job to pursue career teaching second graders

LELAND, NC (WWAY) — For many children enrolled in Brunswick County Schools, the school year comes to an end in just a few days and summer vacation is about to begin.

Second graders in Claire Marling’s class at Lincoln Elementary School have learned a lot this year.

One way she’s helped her students master the curriculum is by encouraging them to learn from their mistakes.

“We celebrate our successes but we also celebrate when we’re able to find what we did wrong and grow from that,” she said.

In a ‘Teacher of the Week’ nomination WWAY received, a parent spoke highly of Marling’s teaching style.

When Marling started her undergraduate studies years ago, she had no intention of becoming a school teacher.

After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Marling’s career was headed in another direction until she realized it wasn’t what she really wanted to do.

“I changed from the private sector because I was tired of working for somebody else’s bottom dollar,” she said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of meaning besides money.”

She then decided to pursue a master’s degree in teaching from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

“Coming into education gave me a bigger purpose, something different, more meaningful to shoot for every day,” she said.

Having taught school four years now, it’s a decision she doesn’t regret.

“It’s just a fun thing to wake up every day and look forward to coming in, seeing the kids click on something, or seeing thing them excited about a project,” Marling said. “As long as the kids are excited to come in and learn as long as they are making connections then it’s an exciting day to be a teacher.”

While many educators are ready to get back to a sense of normalcy, Marling says ‘normal’ really depends on how you choose to react to your circumstances.

“In our class this year, I told my kids we’re going to have a normal year,” she said. “We learned math, we learned reading, we had our science and our social studies project, that was all normal, we ate lunch at the same time every day so normal was what we made it.

She says normal may look different from year to year.

“I don’t know what it will look like next year,” she said. “I certainly think people are hoping for a different normal next year but whatever comes, it will be fine.”

Principal Pamela Biggs says three attributes set Marling apart.

“Her relationships with students, the engagement that she brings to the classroom and her lessons and her dedication to the job — because her heart is really in it and you can tell every day that’s she’s really here for the kids,” Biggs said.

As for being WWAY’s ‘Teacher of the Week’?

“That was a surprise, it feels really good,” Marling said. “I wake up excited to come to work every day.”

She says every day is an adventure.

“You never know exactly how things are going to pan out or how things are going to go,” she said. “Every day is an opportunity and I love that.”

Its also opportunity to affect these aspiring third graders in a profound way regardless of the challenges the pandemic posed for them and their teachers this year.

As part of our ‘Teacher of the Week’ recognition, Marling received a $100 gift card thanks to our sponsoring partner, Down East Heating and Air Conditioning.

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