Erica Hammon, a Salt Lake Community College alumna and resource teacher at Whittier Elementary has one passion: to help students achieve success in life.
“There’s nothing better to me than to see a student who has a disability, or who had an extra hard time in school, graduate or go to college,” Hammon says. “That’s my ultimate goal. I struggled in school myself. I was not at the top of my class. I spent every recess in class trying to get the math done and all the smart kids were done, and gone to recess without me.”
Hammon struggled in elementary school. Not only was math extremely difficult for her, she was also diabetic and had to take time out of classroom instruction to give herself insulin shots throughout the day.
“I’ve been working in schools for a long time,” Hammon says. “I want to inspire students to get past the hurdles that they have because students with special needs always have an extra bundle of things to get past. I feel like if we use these strategies to help them get past those hurdles, they’re going to be able to be successful in life.”
She believes that teachers can have a profound influence on the lives of their students and those they work with. Often, it is a teacher’s influence that causes a student’s life to take a completely different direction than it may have otherwise.
Hammon was first encouraged to go to college and become a teacher when she was working as a teacher’s assistant in a resource classroom, although at first, she didn’t think she could do it.
When she finally enrolled at SLCC, Hammon had come to a point where she realized that she needed to make some changes in her life.
Hammon has had a lot of success in the classroom using her strategies, primarily with special needs children. One of her many success stories began last year with a fifth grade girl who was struggling in school.
“She came to school every day very down; not always clean,” Hammon says. “She had a really hard time in any kind of social situation because she had no self-esteem, and so her teacher and I worked together to make her feel, if nothing else, like she could do [well in] school. She was one of those students who was surely going to fail if she didn’t have some kind of help.”
Hammon continues to work with this student, who is now in the sixth grade and thriving in school. She even talks about going to college to become a doctor.
“Don’t ever tell your child that they can’t do something,” Hammon says. “Don’t ever put all of your focus on the hard things; always focus on things they’re strong at. Some parents say, ‘My child is failing,’ just because they can’t do their math. I say, ‘No, look, they can read on grade level in reading and language arts. Let’s work on the math, but my goodness, look at how much success they’ve had in these other areas.’”
This is not only applicable to elementary school students. Hammond says this is something that can be applied to college students as well.
“Too many people tend to focus only on their own weaknesses and they forget to focus on their strong points,” Hammon says.
For more information on Hammon’s book, visit her Facebook page.