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Chrisman graduate Brian Porter has found a home at Van Duyn Elementary School. Brian, the son of Chad and Kitty Porter was recently hired at the Clinton Elementary School after graduating from Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Going into ISU, Porter hadn’t thought about becoming a teacher, but always knew that he was able to form strong connections with children. “There came a time in college when I knew I needed a major change,” Porter told us. “My mother encouraged me to consider being an elementary school teacher and it became a passion pretty quickly after that.”
Since his major changed early in school, Porter attended Indiana State for five years as opposed to the usual four years that most students take.
One of the curriculum requirements at ISU for students who want to go into teaching is taking a semester called TOTAL (Teachers of Tomorrow Advancing Learning). This program functions like a preparation semester for the culminating student teaching experience.
“I was placed with a wonderful host teacher who I got to observe, then I got to try my hand at teaching, planning and all other teacher responsibilities,” Porter said. “The following semester, I was placed at the same school for my student teaching experience, where I had a wonderful host teacher and I got a real teaching experience.”
Brian completed the TOTAL placement in a third grade classroom and his student teaching experience in first grade. “They were unique experiences with their own challenges. My host teacher and host principal were very helpful and pushed me to grow as a teacher and a person.”
Porter did his semester at Van Duyn, who would eventually hire him. “They gave me room to find who I am as a teacher and let me make mistakes and helped me learn from them,” he said. “After my student teaching, I was able to do some substitute teaching for my host teacher after she went on maternity leave, which gave me a true teaching experience. All in all, my experiences at Van Duyn were fantastic.”
His ability to connect with younger children and feeling that they were enthusiastic learners lead to Brian’s decision to stay with the elementary age students. “As a teacher for these kids, I am able to make a strong impact early in their lives to help guide them towards growth, which will make them successful for the rest of their lives,” said Porter. “Children are also simply fun. They are curious, silly and unafraid to try new things which provide for fantastic learning experiences. Male elementary teachers are rare and I feel that I have a great opportunity to be a strong male influence in their lives.”
The genuine nature of children was also something that drew Brian to the elementary. “Early elementary students bring their own personality and interests into the classroom everyday and their happiness is contagious,” Porter said.
When it comes to teaching, Porter looked back on teachers that influenced him, one of those being his grandmother. “My grandmother, Caroline Heath was an elementary school teacher for many years and she certainly has become a mentor for me as a teacher,” Brian said. “From my own time in elementary school, my fourth grade teacher, Penny Cook has always stood out in my mind as a major influence. Her enthusiasm has always stuck with me.”
Two of Porter’s host teachers from Van Duyn, Jill Wright and Elise Ping were also major influences. “They are both top notch educators who were fantastic examples, but also helped me to find myself as a teacher. I’m now extremely excited to have them both as colleagues now.”
Finding the perfect school is difficult for a new incoming teacher. “When I walked into Van Duyn, I felt welcomed by everyone I encountered, students, teachers and administrators,” Porter said. “My principal, Ronda Foster, is wonderful and helped me every step of the way during my practicum experiences and the hiring process.
Most host teachers were great educators and even better people. I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to teach at such a great school.”
Brian’s enthusiastic nature and energy will be a treat for his incoming students this year. “I love to make learning fun, allowing it to be meaningful to the children, so they are learning without even realizing it,” Porter said. “Future students and parents can expect a strong communicator, who is caring and understanding. I do my best to be helpful and form meaningful connections with both students and their parents.”
Though Clinton, Indiana is just a short drive from his hometown of Chrisman, Porter isn’t ruling out the possibility of coming back in the future. “Teaching in Chrisman is something that I have always thought about. I love the idea of giving back to the community I grew up in by helping inspire and teaching its young children,” Brian said. “Nobody can be sure of what the future holds, but at this time I am so glad to be where I am and I could not have gotten here without the help of all those I have encountered both here in Chrisman and those from South Vermilion.”