Kathy Duran, left, and Sara Linsacum take a break together after school Friday in Duran's room at Sunset Elementary School. Duran, who has been a teacher for 25 years, is mentoring Linsacum, a first-year teacher.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Kathy Duran, left, and Sara Linsacum take a break together after school Friday in Duran's room at Sunset Elementary School. Duran, who has been a teacher for 25 years, is mentoring Linsacum, a first-year teacher.

Steadfast teacher helps first-year educator

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At Sunset Elementary School, a wall and 25 years separate Kathy Duran and Sara Linsacum.

Although they can't erase the time, they can do something about the wall.

They can open a sliding door.

Tuesday, the first day of school, was Linsacum's first time with a class of her own. The same day marked Duran's 25th year as teacher.

And they've used the pair of narrow double doors whenever they've had the chance this week.

"Every morning before school, we visit," Duran said.

The conversation often continues at lunch, during their planning periods and after school.

At the request of Sunset Elementary Principal Zack Allen, Duran has taken Linsacum under her wing. Duran remembers being a first-year teacher, starting her career in the same room she teaches in now.

The first week of school that year was "totally overwhelming," she said.

Duran didn't brave her first year alone. She had a mentor: Kris Bye, a former Sunset teacher, who's since moved on.

Once a week, Bye and Duran would plan their lessons together. And, gradually, Bye led Duran through her first year teaching.

Duran now does the same for Linsacum, giving her advice and support along the way.

"It's a little overwhelming when you first start," Duran said.

Linsacum begged to differ.

"It's very overwhelming," she said.

"There're so many pieces to it," Duran said.

Linsacum agreed. She said being an educator requires more than teaching lessons or giving assignments.

"You have to worry about the kids getting picked up and dropped off (and) by who, what they're doing this day, if they're allergic to anything - all the little aspects that go with it besides teaching," she said.

From her first day on the job, Linsacum has been learning as much, if not more, than she's teaching.

"I feel like a kindergartner, because I'm learning right with them," she said.

Linsacum isn't new to Sunset. She was a student teacher this spring in the school's physical education department.

Nevertheless, the first week brought its share of surprises.

Learning how to soothe crying students and managing multiple tasks - on top of teaching - were a few of the challenges Linsacum faced this week.

"I guess all of it's a learning experience because it's all so new," she said. "Everything is trial and error."

That's where Duran steps in.

Duran has given Linsacum hints about how to manage her classroom, beginning with how to seat her students.

In Linsacum's estimation, it's the small things that count.

"It's the little things that make or break your classroom," she said.

Although the two kindergarten teachers are separated by age and experience, they share at least one common trait: love for their work.

"I love the kids," Linsacum said.

Duran agreed.

"They're just so innocent," she said. "Honestly, they're like a breath of fresh air every day."

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