By April Clark Honaker
Pamela Touchstone always wanted to be a teacher and grew up playing school. She said every career aptitude test she took said she should be a teacher or a social worker. Touchstone has been teaching primarily in middle school for more than 20 years.
She spent many years in Union Parish and at Riser Middle School in West Monroe, but she is currently a sixth-grade social studies teacher at I.A. Lewis. This is her second year there, and she was recently selected Teacher of the Year for the school.
Most of Touchstone’s years of teaching were in the seventh-grade classroom, but she said she likes being at a school that is dedicated to one grade. According to Touchstone, the administration at I.A. Lewis are all set on making sure the students are ready to transition to junior high.
Although it’s only one year of difference, Touchstone said teaching sixth graders is very different from teaching seventh graders. “They’re still very young, and they still love school,” she said. Making the change from seventh to sixth grade has required some adjustment, but Touchstone said, “I’ve quickly found my footing with them.”
Regardless of the grade level, her love of teaching remains the same. “My favorite thing about teaching is getting to know the kids and learning along with them,” Touchstone said. “I’m always learning something new.” Whether she is learning new information, learning something about herself, or learning about how to deal with people, Touchstone thrives on learning with her students.
She said her own parents valued education and instilled a love of learning in her. She tries to pass along that love of learning to her students. “Nobody’s perfect,” she said, “but you can always do better.”
Touchstone said she loves reading, especially about other cultures, which inspires her teaching. “It’s something that’s easily translated into teaching,” she said. “It keeps it interesting. It keeps it fresh.”
Her favorite topic within the realm of social studies is government, so she really likes teaching about Greece and Rome and how their government has influenced ours today.
Touchstone is aware that many people find history boring, but she tries hard to make the material she teaches interesting. “I want every class to be involved in what they’re doing,” she said. Sometimes that means acting things out or using technology. In the end, Touchstone is determined to find what hooks her students and keeps their interest.