(Photo by Leonna Heuring, Staff)
Lambert's class was in the middle of end-of-the-school-year-cleaning. Students were thumbing through their textbooks, erasing pencil marks and pulling out extra papers that didn't belong.
As Sikeston R-6 Schools end classes Friday, Lambert's first year as a teacher will also come to a close.
"It went a lot more smoothly than I could ever have imagined," Lambert said. "I got lucky with a good group of kids. I've had a lot of support. It wasn't a crazy year like what everyone tells you your first year will be like."
But the first year was stressful and a lot of work, Lambert admitted.
The one obstacle that made Lambert nervous was the Missouri Assessment Program testing held in April.
"So much weight is on your shoulders. The teachers are held accountable for how well the kids do. ... Once it was over, it was almost a sigh of relief," Lambert said.
And Lisa Hill, special education teacher at the Sikeston Senior High School, is just thrilled to be ending up her first year in the district. After a nine-year absence from teaching, the middle school teacher returned to the profession this year -- but teaching secondary education.
"I'm no longer the new person so it's been great," Hill said. "But everyone's treated me as though I've been here forever."
Hill said her return was perfect timing.
"I'm glad I came back and glad I went to high school," Hill said. "I can really see the difference I make each day and the kids grow so fast -- and they seem to bond with me."
Prior to returning to teaching, Hill said teachers she knew talked negatively about the job, but Hill said she has seen the opposite.
"It's so better because we as a community have recognized the needs of the kids to keep them safe. We can talk to them about alcohol and drugs and sex, but before it was like 'Do you or don't you?'" Hill recalled.
Hill admitted she may have been a little too elementary with the teenagers this year, but that's something she will not repeat next year, she said.
"It was just little things," Hill said. "Students would say, 'I left my stuff in my locker and I'd let them get it. ... They'd spend two minutes talking to friends instead of bringing what they needed to class."
So next year Hill thinks she will give one warning and then it's afterschool detention.
"It's not daily. It's cumulative that they do this - but I can't show up to work without being prepared for my job so they shouldn't either," Hill explained.
Other than a little general moodiness from students, Hill said she didn't any discipline problems that couldn't be easily resolved this year.
Lambert's class was the same way. The biggest problem she had was students being too talkative at times, she said.
"I was really lucky. There were no disrespect problems," Lambert assured.
In an effort to preserve the school year, Lambert and her students made a memory book.
"Each student wrote what their favorite memory was this year, and I copied them and put them in a booklet," Lambert said.
Most of the students wrote they enjoyed physical education, math races, learning multiplication and, of course, learning from Miss Lambert, as they call her.
Both Hill and Lambert are thinking ahead with their careers. They both will be attending classes toward their master's degrees, and are already thinking about next year.
"I have all of these ideas and need so many materials to do them," Lambert said with excitement. "I want to focus on hands-on materials because the kids like to be involved in what they're doing. They want more interaction."
And Hill pointed out education has definitely become a group effort.
"We're a community," Hill said about the district. "We're a small town with about 800 people in these buildings. What we do, we do to make things better."