Longtime teachers leave a mark on a school district and community, and all will surely agree that Ann. M. Scotland will always be remembered for spreading kindness near and far.
After 36 years of teaching in the Mt. Olive School District, Scotland is retiring. She completed her paperwork requirements to officially retire this July 1.
“It’s time,” says Scotland, 60. “My adult children whom I adore live in Colorado and Pennsylvania. I am blessed to be a granny to my sweet granddaughter. My goal is to make special memories with them now. More chapters to share in, more of my story to be.”
Her plans are to “Fill myself with family, travel and be useful in some way. Once settled I wouldn’t mind getting some type of part-time job mentoring future educators.”
A teacher for 39 years, Scotland started in September 1984, “as Miss Smith at the age of 21 in a private school called Morris Plains Country Day School in Morris Plains. I taught full day kindergarten. I did that for two years.
“I wanted to get a job in a public school, so I stopped and subbed for Mt. Olive and Dover,” until 1986. “Then in January of 87’, I found my dream spot in Mt. Olive.”
She started out at Mountain View Elementary School teaching fourth grade until 1990. From 1991-2001, she jumped over to Sandshore to teach first and second grade; and then in the fall of 2001 she relocated to Chester M. Stephens to teach first and second grades.
“I have been at CMS since it opened as an elementary school in 2001,” says Scotland, who currently teaches second grade.
Teaching was her childhood dream.
“Since I was a little girl, teaching has been my passion,” says Scotland. “I did struggle as a student. I wanted to reach all children but especially ones that had low self-esteem due to challenges that learning can present. It has always been my intent to help boys and girls reach their fullest potential academically and to underscore no matter where they are with their learning, there is a place to contribute and have purpose. There is a place for everyone.”
After graduating Whippany Park High School in 1980, Scotland attended County College of Morris in Randolph for her associate’s degree in humanities and social science in 1982 and then went on to Glassboro State Teacher’s College, now Rowan, for her bachelor’s in elementary education in 1984.
While working, Scotland went back to school at night and on weekends at Seton Hall University for her master’s in education in 1990.
Witness To Change
Since she has been at MOSD, Scotland has worked under seven principals and is witness to many changes from education to technology.
“Time changes things,” says Scotland. “Some of the changes are good and others not so good. Our expectations have varied over the years as to what a student should master. It is my opinion that with some of the new expectations, we sacrificed some basic skills that are so necessary in our day-to-day living. “Rigor” became a big word in recent years and the bar was made higher for a child’s academic success to be recognized. In some cases, we have negated the importance of social skills, problem solving and independence. These are learned experiences that offer a sturdy foundation for all of our younger students to build from going forward.
“I think in the elementary years we need to slow down and offer time to develop these areas of learning again,” says Scotland. “This will strengthen their self-esteem, motor skills and cognitive development. In current years we have so many wonderful tools we can use to enhance each lesson. If used appropriately, amazing things can be accomplished. Differentiated instruction has advanced and has a healthier use among our student population. With that said, all students need the basics before launching to the higher level of learning.
“When I started there weren't computers or Smartboards. It was pencil, paper, books and chalkboards,” she continues. “Due to COVID, now more than ever we need to find a balance and steady an elementary age student’s learning with appropriate expectations and tools.
“Assorted curriculum has been used throughout the years too,” she adds. “Teachers need to be provided with programs that enhance student learning with the tools necessary to deliver the instruction. Going forward it would be my hope that administration and classroom teachers would work closely together on this. There are some valuable voices in the classroom. That should always be respected. A love towards learning should be provided for all students. A balance between then and now will be key.”
A Rainbow Full Of Accomplishments
“My greatest accomplishment was to take part in a voice much larger than myself,” says Scotland. “It grew with collaboration among colleagues, time and a dream. My hope has always been to teach the whole child… mind, body and spirit. Let them know we all have value and can contribute within our school walls and beyond. Showing a student that their academics really don’t come alive until he/she blends his/her skills with the goodness he/she can provide through integrity and kindness. There are plenty of brilliant people that don’t blend their knowledge with heart and that needs to change. There is so much divide in the world and what we need is unity through humanity. We all bring to the table different skills and talents and if we use them for the greater good~ that’s a world I wish for my students to live and share in. There is no better lesson. My accomplishment is that I had a voice, I shared it the best that I could, and it will allow for my students to develop their own voice in a way they want to offer it.”
Memories To Cherish
“I have so many wonderful memories/moments from all the schools I have worked in,” reminisces Scotland. “The late Chester M. Stephens and Mrs. Blessed Cannata started this amazing ride by welcoming me into the Mt. Olive Community. My affection continued to be filled with incredible colleagues, students and families that I have met throughout the years. The best moments are shared moments among many. The start of Love a Parent Night at Mountain View, Collecting gifts for Morristown Memorial at Sandshore, all the Kindness Tours at CMS, WRNJ Rainbow Connections being aired on the radio each Friday morning for the surrounding area to hear, art created by our students auctioned off~ sending money and love to the children of Afghanistan, our Take It Out Program, making/ delivering blankets to offer hugs for those that need it, and writing/publishing a book with my looping class~ “Treasures of A Teacher’s Heart/Changing the World With Our Own Two Hands,” are just a handful of memories that will stay embedded in my heart.
“But there are quieter moments that fill my being too… a paper heart from a shy student that says, ‘I love you,’ an alumni student reaching out, a child that didn’t think he could read is amazed when he does, a parent that is grateful for your service,” she continues. “And then there are colleagues that I consider family and have been a gift to me beyond measure~ Kelly Garry and Dawn Walsh to name a couple.
“There are memories that I have not just shared with the building I work in but as an entire community,” she says. “We lived through 9-11, Hurricane Sandy and COVID. Together we faced the horror of it all with compassion and solidarity. Those were the moments that my students saw the truths of what kindness, skill and compassion can do for the world. Handing out sandwiches, writing to firefighters, and or watching their teacher adjust to virtual learning. We are in this together. They are young but they got it!
“I gave the best of myself,” says Scotland. “I was mentored by astounding teachers, matured and polished so that I could sprinkle my students with all that I could offer. Time will tell if my accomplishments will make a difference in their lives. I’m rooting for them and a forever fan of each and every one!”