By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Born and raised in Ann Arbor by a mother who often emphasized the importance of education, LaKeisha Drummer attended preschool at Pattengill, Lawton Elementary School, Slauson Middle School, and Pioneer High School. In 2007, Drummer received her Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in education from Michigan State University.
During her undergraduate career, Drummer had a variety of pre-teaching experiences that nurtured her desire to serve diverse student populations. She went on to complete her student teaching internship in a second-grade classroom in Detroit and then taught fourth grade for a year at a Title 1 school in Georgia.
She returned to Ann Arbor to teach fourth grade at Burns Park Elementary School for two years. After transferring to a fourth grade teaching position at Carpenter Elementary in 2011, Drummer received her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Eastern Michigan University.
This school year marks Drummer’s first year teaching third-grade.
In addition, Drummer also serves on the following school committees: School Improvement Team, Equity Team, and Responsive Classroom. This past summer she also worked on a team revising the elementary English Language Arts rubrics. Ms. Drummer currently serves as the Math Curriculum Instruction Specialist for Carpenter Elementary. She is a member of the AAPS professional learning community that has a partnership with the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan. Additionally, Ms. Drummer is part of a WISD professional literacy network called SOEL (Study of Early Literacy).
Drummer and her 5-year-old daughter Ziyah, who is a kindergartner at Carpenter Elementary, live in the Ann Arbor area. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, reading, shopping, and cooking.
What was always written on your report card in grade school? The comment that was always written on my report card in grade school was, “LaKeisha is a kind, hard-working student. She is a pleasure to have in class.”
What inspired you to become a teacher? For me, it is not so much the what as it is the who. Growing up, I remember my mother being my first teacher. My mother knew that learning did not end at school. Reading together daily, visiting the Ann Arbor District Library on the weekends, and engaging in authentic conversations about my learning at school cultivated my ongoing love for learning. My mother instilled the value of education in my sister, and I early on.
My maternal grandmother grew up in Greensboro, Alabama. During that time making it through grade school was not common. However, she remains one of the most intelligent people I have ever known. The invaluable life lessons that she not only talked about with her children and grandchildren but also displayed before us, inspired me to be the educator that I am today. My grandmother passed away in 2010.
Going into this selfless profession, I considered all that my mother and grandmother had taught me, as well as the educational opportunities that they envisioned for their own children. Therefore, my mother and grandmother are my two biggest inspirations. Now that I am a mother myself, my daughter inspires me to continue in this profession, which I feel blessed to be part of.
What’s the best compliment anyone could give you? The best compliment that I have ever received is from a parent. The parent shared with me that I made a life-long impact on their child, educationally, socially, and emotionally.
What makes teaching at Carpenter unique? There is so much to say about what makes teaching at Carpenter Elementary unique. However, the one thing that stands out is the strong sense of community that you feel as soon as you walk in the doors of Carpenter Elementary. It is a true family-like atmosphere. A feeling of belonging and comfort is what I experienced when I first arrived at Carpenter Elementary in 2011. Those same sentiments can be shared by the many individuals who come to our school. People feel this way because of our lead administrator Michael Johnson, the students, families, and staff members who work together, to go above and beyond to ensure that our school is a welcoming, safe, and inclusive environment for all students.
Describe an average workday. My daughter and I typically arrive at school at 8:30 am. When I arrive in my classroom, I check my email, the agenda for the day, review the lesson plans, and ensure all the materials are ready for those lessons, including technology. Once students arrive in the classroom we are working and learning with each other throughout the day. Our learning includes both whole group and small group instruction in various subject areas. Additionally, students sometimes work in pairs and complete independent activities as well. Morning meeting, brain breaks/energizers, and closing circle are also part of our instructional day together. Sometimes, I may have a meeting, the responsibility of facilitating a professional workshop, or a school event to attend after school.
What do you have for lunch, and where do you eat it? I typically have a balanced diet that includes lean protein, vegetables, and fruits. I usually eat my lunch amongst colleagues. Once a week, I eat in my classroom with students.
What advice would you give to a first-year teacher? The advice that I would give to a first-year teacher would include:
- Establish and maintain high expectations for all students regardless of their background and personal circumstance.
- Make time for family, friends, and self-care.
- Build relationships with your students, families, and staff.
- Establish effective classroom management systems.
- Design your lessons with the end in mind, and teach for mastery.
- Be flexible, and know that it is essential to modify your instruction in order to meet the individual needs of your students.
- Seek out positive mentors, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Be a good listener.
- Be reflective of your teaching practices.
- Continue growing as a learner.
Was it hard to switch to third grade after teaching fourth grade for so many years? No, because modifying my instruction to best meet the needs of my students has always been an integral part of my instructional practice.
What’s the happiest part of your day? The happiest part of my day is when I get to greet my students at the beginning of the day. Throughout the week, I make it a point to acknowledge something that I’ve noticed about each student as I greet him or her in the morning. I may also inquire about something that is of interest to them. This could be inquiring about the arrival of a new sibling, asking about how a new book is going, or discussing an extracurricular activity. This is also a great opportunity for me to emphasize to a student that I am looking forward to him or her having a great day.
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