Teresa Holmes decided she wanted to be a teacher when she was in second grade, inspired by her teacher Mrs. Bonnie.
“She was the person I wanted to be when I grew up,” Holmes said. “From that moment on, I never changed my course of action.”
The 2020-2021 school year marks Holmes’s 24th year in the profession. She currently teaches fifth grade gifted and talented students at Forestbrook Elementary.
Holmes was born and raised in New York and moved to the Grand Strand to attend the University of South Carolina – Coastal (now Coastal Carolina University). She received her undergraduate and masters degrees from CCU.
Prior to teaching at Forestbrook, Holmes taught at Waccamaw Elementary in Conway, Seaside Elementary in Garden City and taught for six years in Massachusetts. She has been teaching gifted and talented students in third, fourth and fifth grade since 2010.
In her current classroom, Holmes teaches reading and math. She enjoys seeing her students engage in lessons and the material being taught.
“They are so intelligent. You can have real conversations with them about real issues. I love how thought-provoking a 10 or 11-year-old can be about passages we read,” Holmes said of her students. “It’s different every day. I can learn as much from the kids as they can from me.”
Teaching math looks a bit different this year as puzzles and group strategy activities have shifted to more independent work.
“They give hints to each other and share what’s working,” Holmes said. “Things are still flowing as if they’re in school every day.”
Holmes is a Rubik’s Cube master and coaches a Rubik’s Cube team at Forestbrook Elementary. The team of eight competes annually at the Horry County Schools technology fair, working together to solve 25 cubes as quickly as they can.
With Horry County students spending less time in the classroom and more time learning virtually, Holmes has been making preparations for online learning since May. She is on the gifted and talented curriculum team for Horry County Schools and spent the summer creating interactive Google Slides for math and reading for third, fourth and fifth grade students.
“We want to give them the experience of being in the classroom even when they aren’t,” Holmes said. “You have to think of the student working 100% alone with no parental support.”
The students in Holmes’s class are working at an accelerated pace, above grade level, so she has created video lessons and recordings to keep up with that level of learning and is available via email or Google Meet for students who have questions or need assistance.
“Even though they’re at home, I’m still their teacher. I’m available. I’m here to help,” Holmes said. “We are still learning something new every day.”
While 2020 has provided many challenges for educators, being forced outside of the school building during the COVID shutdown this spring allowed Holmes to spend more time at home and disconnect from work at the end of the school day.
“Finding balance is really important,” she said. “It takes teachers a long time to do that. This year has been helpful for me and put a lot of things into perspective.”
Outside of school, Holmes said spending time with her family is her number one priority. Holmes has two adopted daughters and she wants to make memories with them and “get away from the chaos of school” on the weekends. The family enjoys volunteering at food distribution sites to help those who are less fortunate.
Holmes has been a competitive bowler for 35 years, averaging over 200 a game and playing three perfect score games in her lifetime. Holmes plays on two local leagues as well as a travel team and assists with the youth bowling program at Myrtle Beach Bowl.
Being named Teacher of the Month for October is especially meaningful to Holmes this year. Right before the school year began, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She said the love and support she received not only from the students in her classroom but from the greater school community was “heartwarming.” The spirit rock outside of Forestbrook Elementary was painted pink in October for breast cancer awareness month and featured the phrase “We love you, Mrs. Holmes!”
“The way they reach out is so incredible. It shows how much a school becomes a family. We are teaching well-rounded children. They are learning how to be compassionate and learning empathy. We are making them better human beings,” she said.
Teacher of the Month is sponsored by Sparks Toyota. Nominate your favorite teachers online at myhorrynews.com/contests.