Benoit Motors Teacher of the Week: Candice Plummer passes on the kindness, encouragement she received to her students

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 15, 2023

By Emily Burleigh

Candice Plummer, 38, became a teacher to help others and make a difference in the lives of students and the community as a whole.

During her life, she received positive support and feedback. She aims to provide the same impactful moments for the students that enter her classroom.

Her mom was her first inspiration. After graduating from Barbe High School in 2003, Plummer attended McNeese State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in elementary education. She was the first in her family to earn a college degree, and her mom helped her persevere when she didn’t believe in herself.

“She was my biggest supporter my entire life. She encouraged me, especially during college and those first couple years of teaching when I was struggling.”

In 2021, she went back to McNeese to get her mentor certification. Now, she is a Calcasieu Parish School Board mentor leader and mentor teacher for new educators. She also is a host teacher for McNeese residents. She was drawn to take on this larger role because of the peer guidance she received in the early days of her career from her guide, Linda Bellow.

“She embraced this unofficial role and took me under her wing. I would have never survived my first few years of teaching without my most amazing co-worker and mentor.”

Her fifth-grade teacher, Martha Damien, also played a strong role by building a foundation of confidence.

“I wasn’t the best behaved or smartest student, but she made me feel important, valued and loved.”

Plummer also credits one of her high school English teachers for encouraging her by commending her for her writing skills.

“I didn’t think of writing as a strength, however once she gave me the compliment, I believed her.”

She has made it her responsibility to pass the kindness and encouragement she received forward to her students.

“I know that if these teachers had such a profound impact on me, I could become an educator and possibly have the same positive impact on my students.”

She has taught in the Calcasieu school district for 15 and a half years. After student teaching at St. John Elementary, she began her career at Oak Park Elementary, where she stayed for 8 and a half years. She has now been at Kaufman Elementary for seven years.

She taught third grade for a short stint before permanently switching to first grade.

When the school year ends in May, her job doesn’t stop. During summers, she continues to educate and support students by teaching Summer Gains at Oak Park Elementary and Summer Interventions at Fairview Elementary.

Teaching is rewarding, challenging and full of adventure, she said. Her hard work was recognized during the 2022-23 school year when she was named Kaufman’s Teacher of the Year.

The underlying philosophy that guides Plummer is that every student is capable of learning, and that a “positive, safe environment where successes are celebrated” is necessary. In her classroom, every achievement, no matter the size, is cause for recognition, and every mistake is an opportunity to develop problem solving skills.

“I believe that mistakes are proof that you are trying. I strive to meet students where they are and provide them with a positive, safe environment that will enable them to grow.”

Her students and mentees give her purpose and a fresh perspective.

“Everything I do is for them. They help me every single day. I have learned from many of my students and mentees that you get what you give. … Recognizing the importance of being a positive role model for my students and mentees has me constantly asking myself how I can improve.”