LINCOLNTON – It’s been a few years since Amanda Lentz walked the halls of G.E. Massey Elementary School as a third through fifth-grade student. Back then, Asbury housed kindergarten through second grade. She continued her education at Lincolnton Middle and graduated from Lincolnton High School.
“My aunt Peggy was a preschool teacher at her house, so she had a couple of my cousins and a few neighborhood children,” she said. “She was so sweet. I remember loving the routine and everything that we did with her. It was a fun time and good memories. I never thought about being anything else.”
While Lentz’s aunt didn’t have a teaching degree, so it was more of a daycare than a true preschool, the experience whet her appetite to be a teacher. Lentz received her bachelor's degree through Appalachian State, and while teaching, furthered her education with a master's from Gardner Webb.
“When I was starting student teaching, G.E. Massey was my number one school choice,” she said. “Thankfully, I was placed there. Even better I was placed with my sweet, former second-grade teacher, who was at time, teaching kindergarten. As soon as I stepped back through the doors, it felt right, like this is where I should be.”
One of Lentz’s fondest memories of teaching happened at the very end of student teaching.
“My class was doing an end-of-year production,” she said. “I was so proud of my first students that I invited my parents to come to see their performance. One of my students was very shy. She never spoke in class and was an English language learner. That day, she was on the stage, standing still and not saying a word. As soon as she spotted me in the audience though, she immediately began waving, smiling, and calling my name. At that moment, my mom looked over at me and said, ‘this is where you need to be.’”
Lentz took that to heart – 18 years later and she’s still a teacher at G.E. Massey. Currently, she’s a kindergarten “Letterland” (phonics program) leader for the school and the county. She’s also a lead mentor for the new Advanced Teaching Roles program that the school has adopted. Dr. Heath Belcher wrote a grant for Lincoln County Schools for the program and G.E. Massey was chosen to pilot it, according to Lentz.
“The design of the ATR program is to have lead teachers helping and mentoring new teachers,” she said. “Our role is to support, be a resource, and develop a strong teaching foundation throughout our school. The program’s essential goal is for leaders making leaders. After college, teachers are just thrown in here. You can’t really learn to be a teacher until you’ve been one. Some new teachers feel very overwhelmed.”
That Lentz was able to work with her former second grade teacher helped her tremendously when she was a new teacher.
Over the 18 years she’s been a teacher at G.E. Massey, while Lentz has always taught kindergarten, there have been through many changes in curriculum, teaching methods, educational programs, and not to mention a global pandemic.
“I’ve also had many principals during my time here,” she said. “Thankfully, they’ve been wonderful leaders, supportive, and kind. Our current administration, Kelly Withrow, is not an exception. In fact, she’s what an optimal leader should be. She’s gone above and beyond with her positivity and support. During her years at Massey, she has paved the way for our staff and faculty to become educational leaders in our building and at the district level. Her vision has always been to do what is best for our students while creating and maintaining a positive, collaborative school culture. To do this, we need strong teachers, who are intentional with our educational purpose. And our main purpose, has and always will be, to grow our students academically and foster a love for learning.”
Lentz said that she does remember attending G.E. Massey as a child.
“I still remember which teachers were in which rooms,” she said. “Since the beginning of my educational journey, G.E. Massey has been the best school, with the most caring staff and teachers in the county. I’m forever grateful to our county and our school for all my opportunities and great experiences. Why would I ever want to leave? This is home.”