"I had never come close to a paperless, iPad school," she said.
Four years later, Muller students now have Chromebooks and is no longer paperless, and Ms. Whitcomb is still finding new ways to engage her students. She uses Google Classroom to help students manage their assignments.
She begins Thursday, Sept. 3 with morning duty in the school's collaboration space. After the area clears out at the bell, she heads to her classroom to prepare for the day. As Muller Road's Spanish and World Cultures teacher Ms. Whitcomb switches between English, beginner and intermediate Spanish several times during the day.
Intro to Spanish, her first two classes of the day, is comprised of seventh graders. The students file in and begin working on the assignment shown on the tv. After practicing answering questions in Spanish like ¿Como te llames? they make flash cards to help learn simple phrases.
Ms. Whitcomb speaks very little English in her next class Spanish I. These eighth graders take heed to the sign on the door. Hable Inglés Aquí A Su Proprio Riesgo (translation: Speak English here at your own risk).
She spends the brief advisory period helping students get familiar with their Chromebooks and organized. This is also a time to check that students are properly using their agendas.
As she reviews the scores for the first test her sixth grade world cultures class took, she quickly makes some adjustments to her lesson plans. The grades suggest the students didn't grasp the content as well as she would have liked, and she provides more opportunities to improve their grades as well as practice their skills.
Ms. Whitcomb fell in love with Spanish as a student at Spring Valley High School. She quickly discovered she had a knack for it and enjoyed the challenge of reading in a different language. She attended Furman University on a softball scholarship. There, she discovered a love for Spanish literature, including poetry. She lived in Spain for a year as an AuP. When she returned to the U.S., she enrolled at Winthrop University to pursue her Masters of Arts and Teaching degree from Winthrop University. After years of experience coaching softball teams, Ms. Whitcomb had an epiphany.
"I realized coaching is teaching. I'm just managing a classroom and not a team."
Being selected as District Teacher of the Year came as a surprise to Ms. Whitcomb who said she is honored. Twenty years in and she's just as passionate about sharing her love of language with her students.
"What other class is there where the means by which you learn is also the information you're learning?"she asks
Each year she looks forward to giving students their first exposure to a new language. "I love inspiring them, working on the fundamentals and setting the stage for the rest of their Spanish careers in high school."
Below is Ms. Whitcomb's day in photos. Visit our A Day in the Life album on Flickr to see more!