TOW Hartfield

Deaf educator Samantha Hartfield poses at a table in her classroom at Carle Auditory Oral School.

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Samantha Hartfield called it a “leap of faith” when she moved from her hometown of Beaumont, Miss., to Champaign to start her career as a deaf educator at Carle Auditory Oral School for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

The University of Southern Mississippi graduate, though, has found a home and a purpose in Champaign-Urbana, where she said she considers herself lucky to not only be a teacher, but “a friend, a role model, a dance partner, and so much more to the children I teach and have taught.”

“It has been amazing,” she said.

I find my work important because ... it allows me to make an impact on the lives of children who suffer from hearing loss. This role allows me to look into the lives of children as young as three years of age and begin to help them shape and identify themselves. I also get to spend my day playing with children using different toys, through pretend play, singing and dancing, and who wouldn’t enjoy that?

I became a teacher because ... I have always loved playing and working with children. I knew I wanted to be able to positively impact the lives of children, and being a teacher allows me to do so. I like to think that I didn’t just become a teacher, but I became a friend, a role model, a dance partner and so much more to the children I teach and have taught.

My favorite lesson that I teach is ... making homemade playdoh with my students and watching them play with it after we are done and it has cooled. The children love watching the process of making playdoh and assisting me with putting the ingredients together. It is the look on their faces when they get to play with it in the end and the conversations they get to have at home with their parents about what they did at school that makes this lesson one of my favorites.

My most fulfilling moment on the job was ... I don’t have just one fulfilling moment, but as a deaf educator, I get to see students make progress with their speech and language daily, and that is one of the best feelings a teacher can have. To hear students correct themselves when they say something incorrect or use words, phrases or sentences that they have learned brings me so much joy, and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything.

Something else I’m passionate about is ... Singing, cooking and my family. These are all of the things that keep me going and make me appreciate every day of my life. Singing is what I do to put a smile on my face and the face of others. Cooking is my creative way of expressing myself, and my family motivates me and pushes me to be the best me I can be.

My favorite teachers and subject to study in school were ... Mrs. Windsor of Beaumont Junior High School, who taught me math, and Dr. Noel Cochran of Perry Central High School who taught me chemistry. These were two subjects that I was not a fan of and struggled in. These two made learning easy and fun. They were easy to talk to and they showed a passion for what they did.

I engage students during this strange time by ... following their lead. I give them a voice and allow them to be the teacher and tell me what they want to do, and we do just that.

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be ... a nurse or doctor. It has always been my nature to help others and my passion to give back.

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