Autobiography: Mr. Vanzant

Read a little bit about the man that's educating the leaders of our future.

Get to know Mr. V

jason.vanzant@carteretk12.org

V Resume

Hello there.  My name is Jason Vanzant better known to nearly everyone in the school halls as Mr. V .  I am a 2001 graduate of Indiana State University, although beginning my college experience in 1995 at Purdue University where I spent three years jumping from marketing and advertisement to consumer development and family services to finally early childhood education.  I credit the classes and work experience (more specifically my hiring at Purdue’s Childcare Facility) in early childhood development that led me to entering elementary education.  After 79 credits and increasing tuition costs I decided to transfer in 1998 to ISU (known for top rated education & nursing programs).  I spent three years in the elementary education program, each semester being assigned three to seven public schools and/or private day care facilities for methods courses.  My final semester I had the honor of student teaching two kindergarten classes and a fourth grade class to fulfill my requirements in attainment of a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a Kindergarten Endorsement. I am shy of three credits of a double major in Early Childhood Development & Education (something I still intend on pursuing).

My work experience stretches with children from two years of age to fifteen over the past seventeen years.  My experience in the classroom consists of teaching pre-K, kindergarten, second, third, fourth, and sixth (science) grade.  I have worked in several day care programs, a private non-for-profit school, and also coached boys freshman basketball.

My first official teaching experience began in 2001 at Bloomington Developmental Learning Center (a non-profit organization) located in Bloomington, Indiana.  I started working with children in the 3-4 years of age room, before moving into a team teaching kindergarten classroom.  After the school year I left BDLC and took a year off of teaching to work at Spring Mill State Park for the Department of Natural Resources located in Mitchell, Indiana (my home town).  In the fall of 2003 to December of the same year I accepted a Title I assistant position at West Washington Elementary (Campbellsburg, Indiana).  My routine went as follows: I began the day gathering attendance for the school to be sent to our equivalent of DPI, then I pulled sixth grade students to work one on one or in small group with reading and/or math.  My next stop was on to second grade to pull students for one on one help in phonetic awareness.  After which I travelled to third grade to read to the class for 20 minutes.  I moved on to the kindergarten room for story time and then finished my day teaching science to sixth grade students.  However if there was ever need of a substitute I would fill in.

I began teaching in North Carolina in January 2004.  I taught 2nd grade at Havelock Elementary for three and a half years.  During my first full school year (2004-2005) I was honored as the HES rookie teacher of year.  Writing and science are my passion to teach.  I enjoy writing because of the creative release it provides.  It is a craft that allows the creative genius to unload in a world that may or may not be real.   Science provides the inquisitive side of me a chance to investigate the dynamics of how something works.  I fully believe that manipulating and exploring through hands-on activities are key successes to learning.

From 2007-2010 I taught 3rd grade at Bogue Sound Elementary. Mr. V finally passed his EOG and moved up to 4th grade during the 2010-11 school year, and present time.  The 2013-2014 school year provided two pleasant surprises.  The first being selected as BSE’s Teacher of the Year, a humbling honor to be chosen by my colleagues.  The second was becoming a chrome book pilot classroom, meaning each student has one to one access to technology and all the programs offered by our wonderful school.

My methods of teaching and style of teaching is adaptive to the needs of the ones I serve.  Material is presented in various ways to keep thinking fresh.  We are fortunate to be a one to one classroom, so a blended learning style of incorporating tech is an asset to how information can be presented, but in zero ways a means to replace the human experience.   Some days thinking and engagement is developed in small groups based on skill level and other times based on student common interest, and yet almost each day there is an intro or recap as a collective whole.  I prefer small groups and groups are ability based, . . . helps keep the attention of an every year to following year shortening span.  My goal is to keep students engaged by exploring, thinking, and creating via problem or project based learning and/or at numerous stations, centers or activities.  Everyone is working at his or her own rate and assignments are individualized based on strength & need, but the juggle is to also present grade level material to all.  The students I work with will be pushed to reach their full potential, they will work in cooperative groups, and be held accountable for how they conduct themselves as a student but more importantly decent person.  Trust plays a big part in our class.  No shocker when I type: Their growth as a learner depends on how much they put into it.  This goes for whole or small group instruction, as well as independent practice.  The responsibility rests fully upon them. My role is that of the presenter, guide, and assist man.  They’re the leading scorers.

As long as individuals are being productive, growing as a learner and person, and not disruptive to others that are working, then they have earned the privilege to 1.) choose appealing activities and 2.) be apart of the class.  I am an understanding, patient, mellow, laid-back (whatever label you wish to use) person, but this should not be confused with lazy.  Quite the opposite.  Many hours are dedicated to this profession (no days off) and I hold two jobs outside of school, so work ethic is valued in this room.

I do & will expect much from them, namely work ethic, effort, and most of all trust.  I do not ask for more than they can achieve, but for them to achieve/tap-in to their absolute maximum and I will push them to their max.  To reach their own level of achievement.  I will never ask them to attempt a task that lacks purpose, but do expect our students to be above all else, respectful to one another and responsible for themselves & their work.  Consequences do and will fall upon those that break our class agreement.  Those result in child-parent phone calls home, revoking welcome from the class to the hallway, other classroom, or office, yada yada yada.  It really depends on the poor choice made and recurrence of behavior.

Keep in mind that progress is the goal.  Whether one is “the smartest” or not does not matter to me.  I understand parents feel differently.  The scenarios are normally the same, “That’s a fine viewpoint, as long as my kid is rolling out A’s or A’s & B’s.”  Of course I want all of them to meet and exceed expectations.  I would love for every child that walks in and out of the classroom daily to pull all high marks in every subject, but the harsh fact is that it does not always happen.  Many factors go into this equation.  How is education valued, if at all, in the home?  How attention to detail or use of strategies in case attention is a weak area?   Are home expectations and school expectations anywhere on the same spectrum?  How are work habits?  How are they reinforced?   Are they doing extra without being asked?  Do they take it upon themselves to research topics they didn’t understand or struggled in?  Genes, outlook on life, effort put in, nature vs. nurture, all of these and many more play huge determinants.

I myself never made the best of grades as compared to other classmates.  I struggled in certain subjects and never was fond of reading unless it was a comic book.  At times I felt inferior to my peers because they picked up material more quickly than I did.  I never was nor am today a test taker.  But there were reasons for that.  I know I didn’t always pay attention as well as I should have, day dreaming or conversing with another classmate.  These were things I had and did improve in, mainly thanks to a summer grounding for low marks on a report card and loss of  privileges that lasted an eternity.  Because of these experiences I know what it is like for many students that feel overwhelmed and frustrated.  I most certainly relate to these individuals and they are the reason I chose this profession.

Expectations are beyond that of my time in elementary school.  They’re beyond those of five years ago, and those expectations continue to climb as I type these words to you now.  It can be tough for some, but doesn’t have to be.

For starters, eliminate the mindset of “I can’t do . . .”  Turn that into, “I may not be able to do this now, but I will.”  A positive frame of mind carries more weight than the hopeless, woe is me, crippled mentality.

Forget who is the “best” in class, and focus on what you can achieve.  There will always be someone better, but there may not be someone more determined that yourself if you want it badly enough.

If you are someone that cannot get past these two points, then I ask you to give yourself and your your child an honest assessment, a true look in the mirror.  Here are some thoughts that one truly needs to ponder.

  • Does the student put in effort with their studies or is material rushed through?  Look at the writing and if they take the time to keep thoughts written within the lines of the blue lines of those rare things known as paper.  Are the thoughts coherent, is it written in a complete thought?
  • Are they willing to try, no matter how simple or difficult the task seems?  No matter whether they’ll fall short the first of fifteenth time or succeed?
  • How’s your attention to keep up with discussion or follow along as examples are being performed?  Can they tell you what to do after you give them a series of two to three commands or perhaps one?
  • Can they complete what is expected of them on time or is the assignment(s) rarely finished?
  • What type of help do they get at home? Learning doesn’t stop when the bell rings at 3:00.  They’re going to need additional help at home, whether it be a project,  a math assignment, or understanding what a word means.

Their progress and success includes many factors:

  1. What & How am I (their teacher) doing to help them?
  2. What are you as a parent doing to help them?
  3. What are they doing to help themselves?
  4. Where do the expectations lie and how can the three of us help to reach those expectations?

Yes,  much to ponder.

I know what it is like to be the kid that had hard times because I was that kid and those hard times still exist in adulthood.  People want their kids to be safe from every bad thing in the world.   I understand that, but to make them ready and strong for what is to come, we also have to let them experience those difficult times when they arise.  If not, they’ll never know what it is to persevere and will shut down when strive crosses their path.

I was never the top student.  I fell short in areas of academics, sports, etc.  Sometimes I put in effort, but not always, and more so if it were a topic of interest.  I respected the feelings of those that made me feel good about myself or what they thought I could accomplish.  What this long wind is getting to is, I know the path, as I’m sure you the reader know.  Do your best day in and out, and don’t make things a big deal that really aren’t.

That’s a sliver of my views, who I am, and who your children will be with for the school year.

Here’s to working together to make the end result (your child, my student, our future) a positive one.

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13 Comments

  1. Dylan Hardee said,

    Hi, Mr. Vanzant. Don’t know if you remember me or not but I Was in your Second grade class in the school year 2005-2006. I was looking at my year books I’v collected over the years and I saw the one of your class and I remembered how awesome of a teacher you are. You played Guitar, Had that aqaurum in the class with those sea urchins, And the giant inflatable whale you brought to class. Also if remember correctly you scuba dived with a 1st grade teacher. Anyways I just wanted to give you a heads up and say Hi.

    Your Bud

    Dylan

  2. tnaznav said,

    Dylan my man, good to here from you. Yes I most certainly remember you my friend. I made a bet with you that if you came to school with a mohawk, you’d earn a homework pass. Next day, and bam – fohawk. You’re in 7th grade now correct? Life passes quickly, make sure you stop to take it in every once in a while. I’m at a new school in Carteret County. I’ve taught 3rd grade here & now 4th. Your class, much like the one I have this year, have been the two most enjoyable classes I have had the privlege of teaching since moving to NC. Mr. B and I still dive and jam together, that much hasn’t changed. Good to hear from you Dylan. I hope your days are without trouble and worry. You’re pretty awesome yourself young man.

  3. Cierra Mosley said,

    Hey, Mr. Vanzant I Just wantedd to let you Know that you are the best teacher I have ever had to this day. I was in your first class you taught at Havelock elementary. I was talking to my mom the other day about how much of impact you had on my life. You probably don’t remember but You wrote me a song when i moved away and I thought that was a the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. Well I’m going into tenth grade now and it’s crazy looking back at how long ago that was but it was one of the best years of my life.I hope all is well with you!

    Your friend
    Cierra Mosley

  4. tnaznav said,

    Cierra my dear, I could never forget you. The crazy hair, the free spirit, the days you decided to roll in for class. Kid – you’ve got the college track already down. You know, other than the three little monkey song, yours was really the first I ever put to music. Couldn’t forget that day, I lost it in front of you guys. You kids were my first real friends moving here to NC. Sounds odd I suppose, but when you spend seven plus hours a day five times a week with someone, and you don’t know anyone else in the state, they become close knit.

    Last I heard from you was a phone call you and your mom made shortly after your move. Your mother was always nice to me. I hope her and your dad are well.

    Sophmore doesn’t sound fair. Although I know 2003 does seem like forever ago to you, it’s a blink of the eye. Thank you for the kind hearted words kiddo. When I struggle with should ‘I keep up with this gig or not,’ it’s those sentiments that make me stay. You’re entering the best years finding out who you are, what you want in life. Keep your parents close, even when it’s not the rage. They’ll be by your side longer than anyone else, so lean on them from time to time. Keep a little piece of that kid with you too. It will keep you young, positive, and strong in times of hardship. I wasn’t just saying it to say it back then, I am waiting to hear/read/see great things from you. Sounds like I did get a preview of things to come, huh? Best wishes in your upcoming sophmore debut. Give all you can and let the rest fall where it falls.

    Your pal forever,

    Mr. V

  5. Nyasia said,

    Heey Mr.vanzant! You might not remember me but I was in your class in 2007 -2008 also 2006-2007 ! Lol I was just stoping by to say hey from me leeah and william!

  6. tnaznav said,

    Hey Ny, how are you? Is high school life treating you fair? Strange as it is, I was thinking of your class. I hope you’re all doing great. I imagine Leeah is part of an art club or at least entering her work in art shows. I remember how talented she is in that area. I worked with Sadie, one of Big Willie-Style’s relatives, and she had many stories to tell me about him. All good things William. Enjoying your days Nyasia. Wish you all the best.

  7. Rylie liston said,

    HI, Mr.V its Rylie in your 2015-2016 class. I just wanted to say hi and I maybe will be coming down there for my spring break it ends it is a week before Bogue sounds starts.

  8. tnaznav said,

    Rylie??? Rylie?? Hmmmmm. Nope, doesn’t ring a bell. You better stop by if you’re in town. Miss seeing you kiddo.

  9. Rylie liston said,

    U too Mr.V!!!!!!!!

  10. Rylie liston said,

    Hey Mr.V i am going to NC this weekend and my dad said i can stop by when school is over…its my spring breck time oh and when i said i was in ur 2015-2016 class i met to say 2014-2015 any way cant wait to see u and all my old teachers☺

  11. tnaznav said,

    I’m locking the doors.😉

  12. Martez Harper said,

    You haven’t aged a bit.

  13. tnaznav said,

    My man, to hear from you brought the grandest smile my way. Get a hold of me via snail-mail or the twitterverse for some catch up. I foresee a Marvel movie in our future. Drop by anytime Martez, whether virtual or in living color.

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