CMS’ Teacher of Year, Deitrice Koetter works create new generations of writers

Published 8:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2023

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Callaway Middle School’s Teacher of the Year, Deitrice Koetter, said the life of an educator is one that runs in the family.

“My dad was a teacher and growing up I would watch him in the classroom and always heard him talk about how he enjoyed it,” Koetter said. “As much as I loved watching him, I wanted to do something different. So, I took a different road, originally wanting to go into the medical field.”

Koetter said as she entered college, the school she chose didn’t have an educational track dedicated to the medical field, so she did the next best thing — took up science.

“I figured if I can’t do medicine, then I can work with kids and teach them how to love science,” Koetter said. “At the time, science was one of those things that either you liked or you didn’t. I wanted to make science a subject that kids could look forward to and like.”

Koetter said when she made the jump from the medical field to teaching her goal was to help somebody. She would end up teaching science for many years until fate decided to change things up.

“When I went to teach fifth grade, I was told I would be teaching [English Language Arts] — I’d always made the joke, I never want to teach anybody’s child ELA,” Koetter said. “I think God has a way of doing a full circle. He pushed me in that area and showed me I could do this. I wanted to serve and influence in the areas God wanted me, not where I wanted, because sometimes when we feel like we’re not adequate he’ll show us that we are more than capable.”

As a teacher known for having high expectations for her students, Koetter said those expectations are what she uses to push her students to achieve success.

“When I moved back home, I ran into one of the first ELA students I had in Valdosta. She told me that even though I was tough and had high expectations of them, if she couldn’t do anything else, she could write,” Koetter said.

“That did my heart good — to be confirmed by God that what I’m doing is influencing and really helping students past and present felt amazing.”

Upon learning she won the title of the school’s teacher of the year, Koetter said she felt elated and blessed.

“To be in a place where my peers could see my devotion to my students, the hard work that’s put in and the fact that they entrusted me enough to represent them was an incredible feeling,” Koetter said. “It’s an honor to be able to represent them.”

Koetter said teaching at Callaway Middle has challenged her and made her a better teacher.

“Teaching here has taught me that even when things get tough, still stay the course,” Koetter said. “In the end, even when you’re unsure of your effect, when you stay the course, it pays off.”

Koetter said if she wasn’t teaching, she would have either gone into the medical field or be teaching subjects in the medical area in high school.

When she’s not in the classroom, Koetter enjoys arts and crafts, sewing, baking, cooking and embroidery. During the summers, she enjoys relaxing, reading, baking and spending time with her two children, Lily and Jaylen, and her grandmother.