BEVERLY - After 23 years of educating kindergarten students, Heidi Fryman still enjoys her job. "The kids keep me excited about being a teacher," said Fryman, who teaches at Beverly-Center Elementary School.
Fryman, a mother of four, said she believes her family life has positively influenced her teaching career over the years.
"I think I became a better teacher after I became a mom," she said. "I see things differently now...through (the kids') eyes."
Throughout her career, Fryman said she's made sure to pay attention to the fact that there is more to teaching than textbooks and letters on a chalkboard.
"It points a time (when) the education part is secondary to what (the kids') needs are? and I try to make sure those needs are taken care of first," she said. "If they don't have socks, I try to make sure they have socks on when they go home at the end of the day."
Fryman's days are always busy.
She knows her classroom cannot be run like a boot camp or at a fifth-grade level. "We change activities about every 15 minutes... and we never miss story time," she said.
Her class also engages in breakfast in the classroom, a morning meeting, journal writing, reading time, handwriting, Saxon Math, one special, social studies and exploration time.
Fryman described herself as a member of a large food chain.
"Everyone is accountable for how the kids score," she said.
Fryman said she was inspired to become an educator by her grandmother, Bertha Newman, who shared the profession and was her mentor.
"Even before I started school I knew I wanted to become a teacher because of the person (my grandmother) was," she said.
Just like Newman, Fryman has carved herself a memorable path. Former students and parents said her teaching greatly impacted them.
"Mrs. Fryman developed personal relationships with her students and catered to everyone's individual needs. Kindergarten was a blast. She made learning simple," said Deidra Combs, 17, a former student.
Becky Hilverding, 59, said Fryman set the tone for the rest of her son Donald's education. Donald is now 19.
" He would tell you she was awesome...because of her, he had a great attitude toward the rest of his educators," said Hilverding.
Fryman said she's never considered teaching a different grade level.
"(Teaching kindergarten) is what I was meant to do," she said.