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Teacher Tuesday Spotlight: Emily Snyder, Whitfield Elementary, Wilson School District

By Rose Kershner, BCTV Intern, Montclair State University

May 12, 2020
Miss Snyder

Photo: Miss Snyder loves teaching music at Whitfield Elementary in the Wilson School District.

Miss Snyder is not only the music teacher at Whitfield Elementary, but also the host of WHGN, a good news show she created to highlight the great things her students and the Wilson community have been doing.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

“My favorite part about being a teacher is working with my students. I love getting to know them as individuals. Interacting with elementary school students is an experience I think everyone should have. Their minds are so awesome. They are so creative and kind and just want to make everyone happy. You also get some of the funniest stories. My role as a music teacher gives me the opportunity to work with my students in a different way. I teach all 600 students in Whitfield Elementary, so I get to know our whole student population. And, while I don’t see them all every day, I do work with them from the time they are in kindergarten up until they are in fifth grade. This is a unique and amazing perspective. I love being able to watch them grow. I feel very fortunate to be many student’s first experience with music, it is a job I don’t take lightly. I love helping them grow and develop into little musicians.”

Students, such as Katy-Mae Light, get to show classmates their new hobbies when interviewed on WHGN

Have you started anything new to stay connected with your students virtually?

“When I’m not planning a lesson or in meetings I’ve been enjoying learning more about video editing. I’ve had to make some videos for my lessons, and I was also inspired by John Krasinski’s ‘Some Good News’ show. I created a news show called WHGN (Whitfield Good News) where I am able to showcase the amazing things our Whitfield community is doing during these crazy times. I collect good news from different families and feature it in a news segment. We’ve had so much good happening in our community. I’ve been able to share pictures of new pets, inspirational artwork, and baking adventures. The kids love seeing themselves on the show and it’s really been great for morale – especially mine. We have special guests like our orchestra teacher who gives a word of the week.

There is a new episode of Whitfield Good News every week.

Every week on the show we also have a big segment. Our first show featured my cousin Devyn who is a Physician’s Assistant. She and I just had a casual conversation about COVID-19 and different ways we can stay safe. I felt like this was the best way to start because it addressed the elephant in the room in a way that was kid friendly and not scary. I also was able to feature a Whitfield family who is collecting food and donating it out to the community. They’ve started a program called ‘Families helping Families.’ One episode included an interview with our school’s teacher of the visually impaired where she taught our students the basics of reading braille. That then morphed into a celebratory dance party for one of our school’s paraprofessional’s who recently finished her coursework to become fluent in braille. I have loved creating these shows as a tool to connect our community during this time away.”

Miss Snyder interviewing the Calabrias family about their food donation program

Devyn explains why staying home can help everyone stay safe.

What are you most excited for when you go back to school?

“I cannot wait to hug all of my students and tell them how much I love them. Being away from them is not only hard, it’s heartbreaking. As teachers we give so much of ourselves emotionally, and to have our students taken away is really difficult. I also can’t wait to see my amazing coworkers and be back in my classroom making music.”

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