Friday, April 26, 2013
The fist experience many children have with school is in a pre-kindergarten class.
And at Browns Ferry Elementary School, those 4-year-olds are the students of Gail Hendrik who began her career 24 years ago in Georgetown County.
Hendrik, one of the five Teacher of the Year finalists, said she began teaching at what was Deep Creek Elementary School and was moved to Browns Ferry Elementary two years later.
After teaching for eight years, Hendrik, the wife of Michael Hendrik, left for a decade to raise her three children but returned to Browns Ferry Elementary 14 years ago.
Hendrik grew up in Aiken and graduated from the University of South Carolina.
Georgetown County was the first place she applied for a job after college.
“I am just an adventurous person and I knew I wanted to either be in the mountains or at the beach,” Hendrik said. “We used to vacation at Pawleys Island.”
Hendrik has taught kindergarten, first grade and second grade, but said she really loves Pre-K classes.
“I love the young child and just how inquisitive they are. I love interacting with them,” Hendrik said. “I love the look of surprise when they catch onto something they did not know.”
She said she has taught both half-day Pre-K and now full-day classes. She said having students all day is a big improvement.
“One of the main advantages is the promotion of oral language development. Speaking and comprehending what is said,” explained Hendrik.
She said by having the students the extra hours, she gets to know them better than she could with half-day children.
Hendrik calls her job “satisfying and rewarding.”
“I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. Helping them learn and reach their potential,” she said.
Hendrik said some of her students are children whose parents she taught when they were in elementary school.
“They love to see me talking to their parents. To see the bond I have with their parents helps them feel safe and secure,” she explained.
Hendrik has been the Browns Ferry Elementary teacher of the year in the past but this is the first time she was a finalist for the district title.
“The school has been so supportive. All the teachers here work very hard together,” she said.
When asked why she has stayed at Browns Ferry Elementary for her entire career, Hendrik said the reason is simple.
“The school has been very good to me. I just feel at home here. It’s where the Lord wants me to be.”
By Scott Harper
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