ALBANY, Ga. -- Lincoln Elementary Magnet School fourth grade math teacher Eve Schroeder vividly remembers when she decided to become an educator.
"Honestly, the wrong factors influenced me to become a teacher," said Schroeder, one of eight finalists for Dougherty County's 2014 Teacher of the Year. "I was happily married with an adorable toddler, but my job was an unhappy version of 'Groundhog Day.' Every day I sat at a desk punching numbers, collecting money, paying bills ... I was the hamster and the wheel was my job -- in constant motion but going nowhere.
"The only way out was to earn a degree, but in what? My husband was pushing me towards nursing, but I was interested in teaching."
So Schroeder earned her B.S. and M.Ed in Early Childhood Education at Albany State University. In 2006 she landed a job teaching kindergarten at Lincoln and officially escaped the wheel.
"Going back to school while working full-time was tedious and stressful, but well worth the years it took to finish, Schroeder said. "Being a non-traditional student and a full-time employee made me more appreciative of my teaching degree."
Schroeder thinks passion and fun is the best way to reach her students.
"Teachers who have a passion for what they teach can help children become life-long learners," Schroeder said. "When I taught kindergarten, I loved teaching a variety of skills through songs, dance, literature and math tubs. One of my greatest accomplishments in education is simply finding a way to teach a skill in an interesting and fun way."
The DCSS's 2014 Teacher of the Year, selected from the best among a group of teachers from each of the district's 27 schools, will be announced Thursday at a banquet at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn.