MOUNT OLIVE — First day jitters, almost everyone has experienced them at one time or another. Daylan Wiggs Wise remembers her first grade year. To help ease the jitters of her students, she has brought a framed photo of herself as a six year old to share with her North Duplin Elementary School first graders.
“I want them to know I have been where they are,” she said.
Wise may have a few jitters of her own, but you would never know it. This is her inaugural year as a lead teacher with a classroom of her very own. A recent graduate of the University of Mount Olive, she is well prepared for the task. A recent tour of her classroom revealed bright colored rugs, comfortable seating options, and bulletin boards filled with encouraging messages to greet her students on their first day of school.
“The little things matter,” she noted.
Growing up as the daughter of two Wayne county educators, Wise knew early on that the K-6 classroom was where she wanted to spend her career.
“Some say it’s in my blood, others say I am simply a natural, I say it’s a calling and a passion,” Wise said.
When learning about careers in early middle school Wise began to hesitate on her desire to teach because of the lower salary in comparison to the career interests of her peers. “However, through impactful teachers, tutoring experiences, and volunteering at Grantham Elementary, I knew teaching was right where I was meant to be,” she said.
Wise was a COVID-19 senior, graduating from Southern Wayne High School in 2020. “The decision to attend UMO was an easy one for me, as it was close to home, provided a small student to teacher ratio, and was known for a wonderful education program,” she said.
Her first year of college was not traditional. “COVID was still wreaking havoc and caused many of my classes to be completely online or have a ‘flexible’ schedule where we may or may not have been able to meet that week,” she recalled. “My first semester consisted of 19.5 credit hours, and I truly did not think I would make it.”
After pushing through that first year, Wise began taking classes directly related to her major and she once again fell in love with the education program. “It was never easy, but coursework and studying are more promising when it is related to your passion,” she said. “I met so many wonderful friends in the education department and look forward to working with many of them very soon, in our own classrooms.”
Wise’s student teaching experience was also not traditional. Her supervising teacher had to undergo an unexpected medical leave. Wise was given the honor and responsibility of taking over the classroom during her absence.
“It was challenging, but I could not have asked for better support from my UMO advisors and peers, as well as the North Duplin first-grade team, staff, and administration. I truly believe that the internship, while challenging, gave me experiences that I may not have had in a typical student teaching experience. I truly learned so much from my group of students and together we improved our skills, developed lasting relationships, and made memories that I will carry with me throughout my career.”
Although only 21 years old, Wise is ‘wise’ beyond her years. Through her student teaching experience, she has already realized that there is no one size fits all approach to teaching. “Oh how simple it would be if there were an algorithm that would ensure success for each student. The truth is, there isn’t. Each year, each class, each student, each teacher, each school is different. It is in the trial and error and productive struggle that we find ways to meet students where they are and help them grow to their potential.”
For Wise, the aspect of teaching that she loves most is seeing her students “lightbulb” moments. “Whether it is an academic concept that they finally catch onto, or simply a daily life skill that we have been working to accomplish, I love seeing the sparkle in their eyes and the excitement that comes with accomplishing something new,” she beamed.
Her commitment and passion for education were recognized this spring by the University of Mount Olive. She received the prestigious Louise Edgerton Teacher Education 2023 Student of the Year award.
Wise is the daughter of Michel and Kelly Wiggs. In June, she married Lance Wise, and the couple now reside in Mount Olive.