Adkins shares lifelong love of learning at SDSA
“If you love what you do, then you’ll never have to work.” Marjorie Adkins has followed that advice from her father for 30 years, and her love of education has led to her being named the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Southern Delaware School of the Arts.
As a special education teacher and coordinator, Adkins helps children with diverse needs school-wide. All SDSA special-needs students are in inclusion classrooms, which means they take “regular” classes during the day, not separate special-education classes. The benefit is that students receive the same instruction, and Adkins said they often bring a new and diverse perspective to the classroom.
“I think everybody benefits from all the children being in the classroom at the same time,” she said.”
Adkins provides extra support so the children can keep pace in a general classroom. She might help students take notes or tackle book reports one day at a time.
“Whatever they need to be successful in that general classroom,” Adkins said. “Most of the time, I try to be proactive. We don’t want them to be overwhelmed.”
When Adkins isn’t working directly with kids in the third-, fourth- or seventh-grade classrooms, she is helping other teachers to accommodate disabilities. For instance, she ensures that deaf students have a scribe to help take notes or that standardized state tests are accessible to everyone.
“I don’t have a classroom,” Adkins explained. “I have a classroom in everyone else’s classroom.”
Though she has taught at SDSA for 12 years, this is Adkins’ first time winning Teacher of the Year. She said she first fell in love with teaching in high school, when she became a first-grade teacher’s assistant.
“Each day, I got to participate in the energy generated within a class, and I knew I enjoyed spending time with children. I was hooked!” Adkins explained. “Consequently, I followed my dad’s advice: ‘Do what you love.’”
Adkins’ own father was orphaned during the Great Depression, when his father passed away and his mother could not support him. Always remembering his mother’s difficult decision to send him to the Milton Hershey Industrial School for Boys, he ensured his daughter was well-educated, so she could always support herself.
After graduating from college a semester early, with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Adkins entered a tough job market and economy. She met many teachers in Sussex County who only found work as substitutes or paraprofessionals. By chance, Adkins had taken a few courses in the exceptional child, so a lucky substitute job turned into a long-term teaching job. Adkins began taking certification courses, and, with encouragement from her new husband, she earned a master’s degree in special education from Salisbury University.
Adkins joined Indian River School District in 1985 and served in several other schools before going to SDSA, where she finds she appreciates the importance of arts education.
Now living in Millsboro, Adkins has seen her own two children off to college. Now retired from 23 years of tucking children in, as her husband jokes, Adkins has taken up learning again. She adopted a puppy, Tank, who has grown into a 100-pound chocolate lab. Instead of hiring a regular dog trainer, Adkins is learning how to train the dog herself.
In the professional world, Adkins is a member of the State Parent Advisory Council, Council for Exceptional Children, School Improvement Team and SDSA’s Positive Behavior Support Team.
“I really like my job,” Adkins said simply. “I like spending time with children. I enjoy the challenge of working with students with disabilities because sometimes you have to think outside the box.”
With her philosophy that all students can learn, Adkins continues working to keep kids motivated and make learning fun.