"Oh, Carole bleeds blue," said Owatin Creek Principal Mr. Charlie Payne with a laugh when we asked him to describe 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Carole Moyer. A 1985 Exeter graduate herself, married to an Exeter graduate, and with two daughters, Lauren '16 and Olivia '18, who graduated from Exeter, Mrs. Moyer's dedicated her entire professional career to nurturing the next generation of Eagles, initially from her 5th grade classroom at Jacksonwald in 1990, and currently from her 3rd grade classroom at Owatin Creek. Within minutes of learning more about her history and her career, you can't help but feel her sense of pride in Exeter--of being a part of the community as a former student and now as a teacher. In fact, a sense of "community" is a central part of what she tries to establish in her own classroom to help her students feel supported, loved and a place where they belong. "What makes Carole amazing is that once you know her, you become part of her family," says Mr. Joe Bertolet, who has taught 3rd grade with Mrs. Moyer for the past 12 years. "She is so passionate and absolutely loves her students," he says. "She's just a wonderful person."
As we continue our series of our longest-serving teachers here in Exeter during Teacher Appreciation Week, we're so excited and proud to share this interview with Mrs. Moyer:
Q: Why did you decide to become a teacher?
A: I became a teacher because, quite frankly, I loved my teachers and I always enjoyed school. I was a very shy kid who eventually found confidence through many teachers who believed in me. I was one of those kids who played school with neighborhood friends, using our garages to set up our mock classrooms with imaginary students or younger kids in Farming Ridge who were willing. In junior high I boarded the elementary summer school bus so I could volunteer as a teacher’s helper, which I enjoyed immensely.
Q: Did you ever do anything other than teaching? If so, what?
A: As a new teacher at Exeter I also worked part time in the evenings through Threshold Rehabilitation Services supporting adults with intellectual disabilities and challenges in a residential setting.
Q: If you wouldn’t have been a teacher, what other career would you have pursued?
A: I would have been a Grant Writer for nonprofits with a focus on outreach projects to underserved populations. When our daughters danced with Berks Ballet Theatre I was the company’s grant writer and creating outreach projects was so fulfilling.
Q: Can you please tell us where you’ve taught, what you’ve taught and for how long?
A: I began my teaching career at Jacksonwald Elementary in 1990 as a fifth-grade teacher. It was absolutely a dream job for me as I had formerly been a student at Jacksonwald. Since then I have also taught third grade. I was one of the teacher representatives who worked closely with administration on the Owatin Creek Elementary design. Our entire staff and student body moved to Owatin Creek Elementary upon its completion.
Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: THE STUDENTS. In elementary school we are self-contained and your class truly becomes a type of second family. As a teacher you have so much creative control to take any subject matter and build dynamic activities and hands-on projects where you see students’ enthusiasm and talents shine! There is absolutely zero chance of becoming bored in a career as a teacher.
Q: What was your favorite grade or subject when you were a student?
A: My favorite subject to teach now is science because it is so active and fun! Throughout school my favorite subject was usually determined by my connection to the teacher. My 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Hannon created the warmest, caring environment and I was hooked! All the girls in my 7th grade English class became very close with our teacher, Mrs. Vroman. We even threw her a baby shower at one of our houses in the evening! My junior high history teacher, Mr. Bickle gave me, a painfully shy girl, a chance to shine and be victorious in Current Event Quiz Shows! Senior high history teacher, Mr. Fleck was so wonderfully dynamic that he made all history intriguing and I couldn’t get enough of it! So for me, growing up, it was more about the relationships than the subject matter.
Q: What’s a moment you’ll never forget from teaching?
A: A few years ago, one of my third graders was fighting a tough battle with leukemia. The other students wanted to show their support and they brainstormed a fundraiser to purchase a new iPad for him. They worked every spare moment they had to create beautiful themed bookmarks with tassels. With this child’s mother’s permission and approval from our administration the students ran a Hat Day and sold bookmarks to the other students in the school. They created posters to promote the special day and set up shop, totally running the sale. My class raised over $1,400 for our friend and classmate. In addition to the iPad, they were able to purchase Beats Headphones and Wawa cards that were helpful due to the many trips to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The students were a true force and became very close as they rallied around their friend. It was the best moment in my career.
Q: What’s a lesson you’ve learned from your students (or a student) that you’ll never forget?
A: When I run into students and they recall all the fun class pets, the exciting science projects, or the great field trips, I realize that the best thing I can teach a child is to simply love coming to school.
Q: What’s the best thing about teaching in Exeter?
A: The staff is unbelievably dedicated and talented. Every day I learn from the talented people on my team who share their creative ideas, successes in their classrooms and educational ideas! Our specialists look for inspiring ways to build an Owatin School Community that is so positive and child centered. We are led by an administration that believes in Exeter and is proud of Exeter! When I began my career teaching in Exeter, I was so very impressed with the staff’s dedication, creativeness, and love of children. I knew my husband and I would intentionally buy a home in Exeter because I wanted our future children to have that kind of excellent education.
Q: Did you graduate from Exeter or have kids who went through Exeter?
A: Both my husband and I are proud Exeter graduates, Jon in 1984 and myself in 1985. My undergraduate degree is from Shippensburg University and my Master’s Degree was earned from Kutztown University. Our daughter, Lauren, graduated from Exeter in 2016 and from Duquesne’s Honor College with her Master’s Degree in 2021, earning the university’s “Outstanding Student in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology”. Currently she is a Speech-Language Pathologist in Pittsburgh children’s clinics. Our daughter, Olivia, graduated in 2018 as Exeter’s Valedictorian and she recently graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Quantitative Finance. She is a Capital Market Analyst in Manhattan. We attribute their success in college to all the outstanding teachers they had throughout their years at Exeter. Their learning environment at Exeter was always nurturing with high expectations. Their Exeter teachers were all top-notch, highly dedicated professionals and we feel extremely fortunate.
Q: What have you learned about the profession since becoming a teacher?
A: Teachers play such a big part in developing a child’s self-confidence! A teacher must meet the needs of varying learning styles, adapt activities to fit students’ abilities and interests, and manage a multitude of elements to create a wonderful classroom climate. My most important educational partners are the parents and guardians of my students. Parent / Teacher communication is like water, it’s VITAL. Anyone I’ve ever had in class will remember Weekly Evaluations and Monday Mail, weekly parent communication I’ve utilized my entire career.
Q: What teaching accomplishment fills you with pride?
A: Whenever I’ve done special projects where my students learn subject matter and then go on to present to other peers or younger students, I am filled with pride. Some examples include learning about igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rock and then becoming a Traveling Geologist to teach first graders. Learning about water pollution and solutions and then presenting at the EcoFair by running a watershed demonstration is exciting. One of my after-school reading / writing groups read about Little Free Libraries and then they started one in our hallway, recycling more than 1,000 gently used books from students’ homes. Students presenting animal research with maps, diagrams, classification flowcharts on Google Slides and projecting with our SMART Board to their classmates brings out the leader in each child. I appreciate those Exeter teachers who helped me, a very shy child, find her voice. The best part of my job is when I too help a child find his/her voice and talents!
Q: What’s one skill that you hope all students learn from you?
A: Our classroom motto is that leadership is shown when you’re someone who makes others feel good about themselves. We create rainbows with sticky notes filled with super positive things we see in each other. Don’t we all want to be with people who make us feel good? That’s a life lesson that I want my children to carry with them.
Q: What advice would you give to yourself as a first-year teacher?
A: I would tell my first-year teacher self that finding a professional and personal life balance is going to be a challenge. But I want myself to remember that beyond the in depth lesson plan writing, experiments, data, and grading of papers- the most important thing is that you show your students you love them and see their talents! (AND people who know me well know I haven’t really found a balance yet- but I do know not everyone gets to do a job they love every day!)