During our interview Maureen Pon hops up to answer her cell phone. Her eyes light up at the personalized ring tone that means it’s her college aged daughter on the other end of the line.
The love and caring she holds for this child is obvious in her smile and in her laugh, and it’s these two things that Maureen brings with her every day as a substitute teacher at North Davis Elementary School.
”I have a relationship with these kids, and it’s so much fun. I know all the kids by name. Some of them I’ve known since kindergarten.”
For years Maureen Pon helped out whenever necessary at NDES when both of her daughters attended school there. Now they’re fully grown, but Pon still walks the halls –slipping into the role of kindergarten teacher one day, Algebra whiz the next.
“It’s the best situation because I get to go in and be around all these kids, which I love. But also I don’t have to be there every day so they don’t get tired of me,” she laughs.
For Pon, being a substitute teacher affords her the chance to gets to know all the teachers and to learn from them how to be a better educator. She says she also gets to know the entire student body in a way that being a dedicated grade teacher wouldn’t afford her–especially since she works exclusively at NDES.
“When you (substitute) teach (at the same place) you can actually start teaching, you don’t have to babysit them. Because you know everybody by name. And they know you.”
Pon is also a tutor, helping countless students navigate the sometimes tricky world of 4th grade math or 2nd grade spelling after school. Her smile is constant and the excitement by which she greets her tutoring students when they ring her doorbell makes even the least enthusiastic boy or girl grin.
“I just love kids. I love making a difference.”
And after decades on the front lines of learning, there is one universal truth that guides the way Maureen Pon greets each and every child she meets.
“There are no bad kids. There are only kids who may be frustrated, confused or sad–but there are no bad kids.”
She says kids have taught her many things–like the fact that respect and guidance go a long way toward changing little lives and making them successful not just at school but out in the world. And armed with that information, Maureen Pon plans to keep making a difference for kids in Davis each and every day.
“You have to find a way to make kids feel special. Whenever I see that light go on for a child while learning– I just love it.”