TOTY Laura Terrell Teaches students how to be “Goalgetters”

Published 9:06 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The LaGrange Daily News is doing a Q&A with all of the teachers of the year in the Troup County School System. Today we are writing about Laura Terrell, a third-grade ELA/Reading/Writing teacher at Hollis Hand Elementary. We asked her 20 questions, and we shortened this interview to some of our favorite responses.

Laura Terrell is an experienced third-grade teacher at Hollis Hand Elementary School in her fourth year of serving Troup County. With a total of 17 years of teaching experience under her belt, Terell has proven her effectiveness in the classroom, showing pride in her students. 

Terrell is married to her husband, Ben, and is excited to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary in the summer. Their two sons, Jack, a LaGrange High School Student, and Andrew, a Gardner Newman Middle School student, are actively involved in their community. Jack actively participates in the LHS track team and serves as a mentor for eighth graders at WyldLife Middle School. Andrew participates in the GNMS golf team with hopes of joining the LHS.

Outside of her regular classroom duties, Terrell serves as a cheer coach for Hollis Hand Elementary. Terrell, herself was a cheerleader for her high school career and says that she has found a passion for coaching others in the sport.


Q: What inspired you to become an educator? (Or who?)

A: “I have had many wonderful teachers over the years who have each inspired me in so many ways. But I would have to say that my parents have played the biggest role in inspiring me to become a teacher. My dad was my elementary school principal and my mom was a 6th-grade teacher for 36 years. I have watched them, first hand, put in many,  many hours of hard work educating other kids, as well as their own four children. I have seen so many former students of theirs who come back and tell them what an impact they made in their lives. I’ve always thought that was so cool and wanted to make that kind of difference in  people’s lives.”


Q: What community activities are you involved in, even outside of the school system? 

A: “We are members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. I am very active with YoungLife LaGrange and serve as the Donor’s Care on the YoungLife Committee.  This will be my 3rd year serving in this role. Both of our boys are very involved in YoungLife/WyldLife and I love that I have a way to give back to this amazing organization.” 


Q: If you weren’t a teacher, what career field would you be in?

A: “I’ve always thought it would be fun to be a set designer for plays and/or movies. I love drawing, designing, and painting.”


Q: What hidden talent do you have that might surprise your students and our readers? 

A: “I love to wrap presents and make bows! Once I hosted a ladies’ night with my church group where I taught other women how to make bows.  I also had a (very short-lived) “small business”, called Bowregards.”


Q: What’s the most creative/unique project one of your classes has worked on? 

A: “I love teaching about Holidays Around the World! I’ve done this in many different ways, in different schools and different grade levels. My favorite times were when I had parents who were either from there or had visited there. I love including the foods that we make and try, a craft from that country, and some sort of activity, like learning a new dance from that culture. It is always the students’ favorite, as well!”


Q: If you could invite any historical figure to speak to your class, who would you choose and why? 

A: “My grandfather, Aubrey Lee Wright, was in the U.S. Navy. He joined shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked. He fought in WWII and was injured while on his naval ship. A 20-millimeter shell that was fired from the wing gun of a Japanese fighter plane went through his steel helmet.  Thankfully, it failed to explode on contact, and he lived to tell his story. I  love to share his story with my students every year on Veteran’s Day. I  have brought his helmet and a picture of him to share with my classes. I also love telling how he was awarded a Purple Heart. He passed away in 1994. I would give anything for him to be able to come back and share his heroic story with my classes each year!” 


Q: What’s the most rewarding part about your job? 

A: “I would imagine that most teachers would say the same, but for me, it’s  when a child finally “gets it!” I love to see students having fun when learning and being successful! My class motto is “We are Goalgetters!” It is fun to help my students set goals for themselves and help them reach  those goals.”


Q:  What’s the most unusual excuse a student has given you for not completing their homework? 

A: “I had a student once whose baby brother ate her homework! She brought what was left to prove it! A new twist on the old excuse…”My  dog ate my homework”… “My little brother ate it!” 


Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job? 

A: “The most challenging part of my job is saying goodbye to my class in  May each year. We become a family in the 180 days we spend together. We laugh, cry, work hard, and make amazing memories together. Each child and their family becomes like family to me. It is so hard to let them go each year, but I am thankful that we will always have a special bond.”


Q: What did it mean to you to be named your school’s teacher of the year? 

A: “My husband began 4th grade at Hollis Hand after moving to LaGrange from Texas. My sister-in-law, Emily Pitts, has been teaching at Hollis Hand for 24 years and I remember when she was named Teacher of the Year for Hollis Hand in 2006-2007. Four of my nephews attended Hollis Hand  Pre-K – 5th grades. As an “outsider” for 20 years of visiting my husband’s family in LaGrange, I’ve always heard what an amazing and special school it is. When we moved to LaGrange in 2020, I was honored just to be able to teach here! When I was named Hollis Hand Teacher of the  Year, just four short years later, I was beyond thrilled! I know how many dedicated and hard-working teachers are deserving of this award and the fact that they have recognized me is very humbling.”


Q: On a weekend or a summer day when school is out, what are your favorite activities? 

A: “I love to travel with my family! We love ski trips in Park City, Utah where  we lived for 8 years, beach trips to Orange Beach at my aunt and  uncle’s beach house, and exploring all the new places in between!”


Q: As your students transition to the next grade or graduate in May,  what is one key takeaway you hope they carry forward from their time in your class? 

A: “We are #goalgetters!” This is a phrase we say (shout!) often in my class.  I think it is important to set a goal and work hard to reach it. I want all of my students to know and believe that they can reach any goal that they set their minds to reach. Hard work and dedication always pay off and I hope they can shout our class motto for many years to come.”