At The Shining Stars School, two heads are better than one
Melissa Eggleton and Laura Terrell were facing the conundrum that many mothers of young children confront.
They didn’t want to abandon their careers — teaching, in both cases — yet they yearned to be able to spend plenty of time with their kids. At the Shining Stars School, they found the perfect solution.
The school, which houses preschool and kindergarten, had a vacancy two school years ago for a kindergarten teacher. Eggleton and Terrell both applied. But rather than choosing one of them, the school presented them with an interesting proposition: What if they shared the job?
Two years later, that approach has proven to be a perfect fit — for both them and the school. Terrell teaches Mondays and Wednesdays, while Eggleton takes the reins on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Together, they team up to provide a "seamless" educational experience for their 18 students.
The two teachers operate as a team. They speak every day, plan lessons together and even keep a written communication log so they know exactly what happened on days they’re not teaching.
"The kids really see us as one person almost," Eggleton said. "They know that we communicate all the time and write down everything that happened."
Terrell said one of the benefits of the job-sharing model is being able to bounce ideas off one another. For instance, when a student is struggling, they can team up to find a solution. She compared it to the old adage that "two heads are better than one."
"It’s just nice to have another perspective," she said. "And I’ve worked in schools where I’ve had my own class, and even then other teachers don’t know the kids’ situations or their personalities. So, yeah, you can talk to other teachers about stuff, but Melissa and I are in the exact same situation."
Another perk is being able to stave off the effects of burnout. Teaching a group of kindergartners throughout the school year can wear teachers down, but being able to tag-team lightens the load.
"We have the energy and the enthusiasm the whole day, then we get a day to regroup," Eggleton said. "And that is great because I don’t ever want to lose that enthusiasm and excitement for them. We want students to see we’re excited. And job sharing allows us to do that."
Eggleton said the job-sharing approach only works with like-minded teachers. She and Terrell share temperaments and educational philosophies. And they’ve become close over the last two years — so much so that they often spend time together outside of work.
"I think a friendship happened naturally," Terrell said. "Because we do so much together with work, the friendship has been easy. It’s like, ‘Let’s get together and have dinner and talk about what we need to do in the classroom.’"