Teacher Feature: Bethel’s Mary Dronet-Lee answers call to teach

Mary Ann Dronet-Lee, known affectionately as Ms. Mary, is a pre-k teacher at Bethel Christian School. Although retired in 2010 after teaching in Acadia and Calcasieu Parish schools for 33 years, she moved north and heard the call to teach again. She taught at New Living Word from 2011-2013 as pre-k4/5 lead teacher, earning Teacher of the Year in 2011-2012, and then moved to Bethel Christian School where she is teaching now in her ninth year (43 years and counting at the end of this year).

Her family is in the health care business, even her children, but Dronet-Lee is the educator in the family. She did have a younger brother work as a child-specific aide.

“I did not decide to become a teacher until my sophomore year in college, when the words ‘help children’ kept popping in my head,” Dronet-Lee said. “I decided then to double major in special education and elementary education.”  

Clifton Elementary and Bethel Christian School are Dronet-Lee’s favorite schools, she said. Both are small schools that she felt really cared about students and the faculty and staff. It is fitting as Dronet-Lee’s basic principles of teaching are “to provide a positive attitude about themselves and the world around them, and to be accepted and taught as an individual to enhance their learning and growth.”

Dronet-Lee said she enjoys observing her children’s excitement as they retain what they have learned or suddenly “comes to light.” She tells students to remember, “I got this, because I put my all into getting this,” and parents to, “Let go and let kids do it on their own – especially putting on their own shoes (even if on the wrong feet) just to see that smile because they did it all by themselves (a priceless Kodak moment).”

Dronet-Lee said she believes that if you love interacting with children and joining them in the excitement of “I did this all by myself,” and that if you love seeing innocent expressions and sayings and receiving hugs, being a pre-k teacher is right for you. 

Dronet-Lee hears it all with the kids. From “I finished eating my milk” to “You mean you don’t live here?” to simply explaining how a white color is not broken when coloring on white paper, she feels blessed and has been a blessing, even called “mom” on occasion by mistake.   

Dronet-Lee said that she enjoys that Bethel offers smaller classes, one-to-one assistance and opportunities to teach good behavior, manners and courtesy towards one another. Bethel offers clubs and sports that keep students involved, interacting and learning good sportsmanship. With smaller class sizes, teachers can provide extra time and attention to each student. As a Christian school, students also learn more about scriptures and how they apply to behavior and life.

“Bethel also has the ‘meet at the pole’ — prayer and music — and chapel every Wednesday,” she said. “Bless the children.”

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