Springfield elementary educator wanted to be a teacher since first grade

Excellence in Teaching award winner: ‘It’s an amazing feeling to watch my kids grow.’

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Joseph Fultz has wanted to be a teacher since he was in the first grade.

Fultz, who teachers third grade at Simon Kenton Elementary School, is in his 23rd year of teaching, with 13 years in Dayton and 10 in the Springfield City School District.

Fultz and three other teachers will receive the Excellence in Teaching award on April 15. The 35th awards program is sponsored by the Springfield Rotary Club, First Energy, The Springfield Foundation, the Greater Springfield Partnership and the Springfield News-Sun.

Each recipient will be introduced and will give a short presentation on what teaching has meant to them and the importance of being a teacher. Recipients will also receive a $1,000 check, a recognition plaque and an etched paperweight.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Fultz recalls the “amazing teacher” he had in first grade, Mrs. Lamb, saying she was kind and made learning fun.

“About halfway through the year, she had to leave because her husband was in the service and was transferred. I remember on her last day that she cried, and I knew that if someone was that emotional about something, then it had to be something that was worth doing,” he said.

Fultz said teaching is important because you help kids build their confidence, expose them to new information about the world, and help them with skills beyond learning such as social emotional, life and interpersonal skills.

“Teaching is an opportunity to make a difference in the life of students. It allows me the chance to bring out the best in each of them and to help them find success. It is an amazing feeling to watch my kids grow and to see them succeed where they might not have before,” he said.

Working hard to inspire a love of learning and reading, Fultz said his favorite part is the new challenges. He said each kid has different needs that require him to look for new strategies and lessons to help them grow, and he wants to make sure each child is able to reach their fullest potential, and wants them to feel safe, loved and cared for.

Fultz said “no two days are ever the same” and, in his 23 years of teaching, “I can honestly say that each year requires me to make changes and look for new ways to impact the lives of the students in my classroom.”

Fultz has taught kindergarten for 3 years, first grade for one year, second grade for two years, and third grade for 17 years, which he said is his favorite grade to teach.

“Kids are independent but also still need a lot of structure. It’s a pivotal year both academically and socially for the kids. This year allows them a final big push to build their reading skills,” he said.

Being inspired by his students, Fultz said they motivate him to continue to work hard and show up for them every day.

“Many of them go through things that I couldn’t have imagined going through as a child, yet they come to school and still put in effort and show resilience. They remind me that I am doing great things by talking to me, giving me hugs, making pictures for me, telling other people about the things we are doing,” he said.

Fultz said receiving the Excellence in Teaching award reminds him he’s doing great things with kids.

Sometimes I get bogged down in all the stress of the job, but when I am with my kids, I forget about all that. There are times I worry that I might not be doing enough, but this award reminds me that others see great things happening and that makes me know that I am on the right path,” he said.

Fultz earned his master’s degree from Wright State University.

2024 Excellence in Teaching Award

This is the second story in a four-part series by the Springfield News-Sun on the teachers in Clark County receiving the 2024 Excellence in Teaching Award.

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