Wake County’s Diane Kent-Parker First-Year Teacher of the Year Rachel Giddings ‘19: ‘When You See a Light Bulb Go Off for a Student, a Fire is Ignited to Continue Doing What You do Best’

Rachel Giddings

Growing up, Rachel Giddings ‘19 always admired how passionate her mom was about her job and how she loved what she was doing.

As a pre-K special education teacher, Giddings’ mom does everything she can to meet the individual needs of her students. And Giddings brings that same drive and perseverance to her classroom as a first grade teacher at Forestville Road Elementary School in Knightdale, N.C.

“I love how much fun it is to be a teacher. Each day is a new day and while it is a challenging job, it is also extremely rewarding,” Giddings said. “As a teacher, you are able to express your creativity and find engaging ways to teach and learn with your students.”

About Rachel Giddings

Role: First Grade Teacher, Forestville Road Elementary School

Education: Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, NC State College of Education

Advice for Aspiring Teachers: “Follow your heart and trust that you can make a difference in the world. The NC State College of Education’s professors and faculty help you find exactly where you fit in and what strengths you have to continue to grow professionally in the field of your choice. You will constantly be surrounded by people rooting you on.”

Her creativity, love and passion for teaching has not gone unnoticed, as she was named one of the Wake County Public School System’s 2019-20 Diane Kent-Parker First-Year Teachers of the Year.

“I am absolutely honored. It is so exciting to be recognized for the work that you do as a teacher,” she said. “It has inspired and pushed me to continue to grow as an educator.”

Giddings credits her experience in the NC State College of Education for preparing her to be the teacher that she is today. The college gave her the confidence to be a teacher, she says, and gaining hands-on experience from the start of her sophomore year was invaluable.

“As a sophomore in the elementary education program, you are already placed in the classroom getting real-world experiences observing teachers and best practices,” she said. “From sophomore year to your very own student teaching experience, you are gaining hands-on experiences that will help you apply for jobs and take over a classroom of your own.”

As an elementary education major, Giddings was placed in a first grade classroom at Forestville Road Elementary during her junior year field placement as well as for her student teaching, ultimately leading to her landing her current position at Forestville.

But it wasn’t just the field experiences that had such an impact on her, it was her time serving as secretary on the NC State Education Council, which helps promote unity among all clubs and organizations within the College of Education and hosts leadership events and club socials.

“While serving on the Executive Board, I met so many students and faculty who inspired me as a future teacher,” Giddings said. “I encourage anyone who is in the College of Education to join different clubs and organizations that will help you collaborate with peers and faculty to continue gaining knowledge and experience.”

The wealth of knowledge and experience that she gained from the NC State College of Education has prepared Giddings to be successful as a full-time educator. And she carries the same passion her mother instilled in her that inspired her to be a teacher. That keeps her motivated.

“It’s a challenging job and it takes time to see the influence you have on these little lives, but when you see a light bulb go off for a student, and then a few more, a fire is ignited to continue doing what you do best. Watching my students grow truly amazes me,” she said.

Photography credit: Jordan McGee