Legislator gets lesson in the classroom

05/08/2014 9:06 PM

05/09/2014 12:07 AM

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.

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