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Legislator gets lesson in the classroom

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/09/00/06/wO7Dc.Em.138.jpg|316
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  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/08/21/07/1u72id.Em.138.jpeg|212
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    State Rep. Charles Jeter high fives Jacob Neal, 9, after helping him with classwork Thursday while he helped teach Weslyn Snuggs’ fourth-grade class at Stoney Creek Elementary School in Charlotte on Thursday.
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    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    State Rep. Charles Jeter, R-Huntersville, sits at left as he helps teach in the fourth-grade classroom of Weslyn Snuggs, right, at Stoney Creek Elementary School in Charlotte on Thursday. Jeter is preparing to return to Raleigh on May 14 for the start of the short legislative session. During this year's session, a number of key education issues are expected to be discussed and potentially voted upon. The issues that top the list are teacher compensation and the debate surrounding the implementation of Common Core State Standards. Jeter recently met with a number of teachers at Stoney Creek to discuss their issues and concerns, after which he accepted the opportunity to teach for a day. He believes that meeting with teachers and being in the classroom will help him make informed decisions on education issues as he goes into the short session.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/08/21/07/ZbOgr.Em.138.jpeg|209
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    State Rep. Charles Jeter works with Trinity Stephenson, 9, while helping teach Weslyn Snuggs’ fourth-grade class Stoney Creek Elementary School in Charlotte on Thursday.
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    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    State Rep. Charles Jeter helps Trinity Stephenson, 9, on Thursday while helping teach Weslyn Snuggs’ fourth-grade class at Stoney Creek Elementary School in Charlotte.

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State Rep. Charles Jeter thought he knew how difficult it was to be a teacher – until Thursday.

Jeter spent all morning and afternoon volunteering in a fourth-grade classroom at Stoney Creek Elementary School, in northeast Mecklenburg County near Mallard Creek High School.

“I didn’t realize how difficult it really was until today,” the Huntersville Republican said. “It’s organized chaos.”

As for teacher Weslyn Snuggs, who invited the District 92 representative to spend a day in her classroom? “She deserves a gold medal,” Jeter said.

Snuggs taught for 19 years in Cabarrus County Schools and has been with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for six years. She works two jobs to make ends meet, she said, and once held four jobs at one time.

Snuggs invited Jeter to return to Stoney Creek when he met with the school’s teachers last week. He wanted to hear their concerns before returning to Raleigh next week for the legislative short session where teacher pay, Common Core and other education issues are expected to be discussed and possibly come up for votes.

Jeter went from one student to the next helping them with their math problems.

Jeter was so busy after arriving about 7 a.m. that he hadn’t once gone to the restroom throughout the school day, he said.

“We haven’t stopped,” he said. “There’s no five-minute breaks. There’s no, ‘I’m going to call my mom to see how she’s doing.’ It’s those little conveniences of life you forget” teachers go without. “Most of the time, she’s in here by herself. She can’t go to the restroom.”

Jeter, whose children are in seventh, fifth and first grades, said he’s always been an education advocate. As a Huntersville town commissioner, he started the Huntersville School Advisory Committee. “I’m a parent, first and foremost,” he said. “So it’s important to me.”

Snuggs said she wonders how the General Assembly can make informed decisions about teachers when most haven’t been in a classroom in years. Of Jeter, she said, “I hope he takes this experience back to Raleigh and makes it real.”

That, Jeter agreed, is precisely his challenge.

Marusak: 704-358-5067; Twitter: @jmarusak
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