Farmer, who is Tiger Creek Elementary School’s “Teacher of the Year” for 2012, said knowing she was equipped to nurture those students through hard times affirmed her life career choice.
“Our country went through something major,” said Farmer, “and then so many of my students were deeply af-fected by the tornado because they’re from the Cherokee Valley area. The community was devastated as a whole. It felt good to be there for them and help them process it.”
Major catastrophes aside, Farmer said one of the toughest parts of her job, especially at the elementary level, was helping children deal with life’s “normal” issues that were out of their hands.
“There are students whose parents are incarcerated or absent,” Farmer said, “and those kids can’t control that, but they still have emotions and hurt from those situations. That sometimes can get in the way with how they inter-act with other kids or how they perform in school. That’s hard … it’s hard to leave it at work sometimes.”
Despite the difficulties, she said it’s very rewarding to be an advocate for children. Establishing a safe environ-ment, talking with the kids, helping them learn life skills and watching their personalities develop makes it all worthwhile.
“I believe all children are unique individuals who are capable of learning, growing, and developing in an envi-ronment where they’re treasured and nurtured,” Farmer said. “My goal as a counselor is to be a positive and sup-portive adult role model and to provide children with opportunities to learn about themselves so they’ll be able to identify their own strengths and limitations and tap into their inner resources of strength and hope…. I strive to help students learn to identify choices and possible consequences of their behaviors and to take responsibility for their actions.”
Farmer said she’s had many mentors over the years, but one in particular will always be special.
“My mother (Jane Terry, also a guidance counselor) has been instrumental in supporting and encouraging me to work hard and achieve the goals I set for myself, both personally and professionally,” Farmer said. “She’s always inspired me to dream big and do my best. I admire her for her wisdom, strength and the unconditional love she has for her family.”
Farmer said hearing she won the award caught her entirely off guard since she doesn’t really consider herself to be a “teacher,” but she was grateful.
“I was completely shocked,” Farmer said. “I have such respect for teachers and what they do day in and day out. I am truly blessed to work with the wonderful faculty and staff at Tiger Creel and feel privileged to work alongside them to support our students and families. I would like to thank them for all they do each and every day for the stu-dents here.”
As for her future, she said she might like to explore obtaining licensure as a professional counselor one day and possibly teach psychology classes at the college level. When she isn’t counseling, she’s spending quality time with Jeff, her husband of 13 years, and their 3-year-old son, Will. Farmer said they like to camp and hike and enjoy the outdoors.
Farmer attended Catoosa County Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, received a bachelor’s degree from Berry College and master’s degree in education with a concentration in School Counseling from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She also received a Doctorate degree in Education from Argosy University.