When walking into the classroom of Nancy Ralph the first thing anyone would see is the saying “Start where you are, don’t stay there.”
It’s a phrase she keeps in mind every day while she is teaching her fourth grade students at Lamar Elementary, and to her, it’s one of the most valuable pieces of information she could share with her students.
“It means that we are all on a learning continuum,” said Ralph. “Each day, we begin at one point, but we move forward and keep on trying to learn something new.”
Holding that philosophy close for the 18 years she has been teaching, she looks at her students as a group of talented individuals that can help make her classroom richer, she said. Collaboration may be key, but she also aims to educate her students on the importance of remaining connected to nature.
Moving to the Rio Grande Valley from Wisconsin, she has great appreciation for the natural beauty of the region and tries to emphasize the importance of appreciating their surroundings, she said. Through outdoor class time to tying nature back to their reading assignment, she is always on the look to find ways to make nature more accessible to her class.
Growing up in a family with eight siblings, it was a natural transition for her to teach. During her life, she always took on the role of helping others when assistance was needed.
“It’s always what I wanted to do,” said Ralph. “I was in the middle so you’re always teaching someone what you’ve learned before.”
When not in her classroom, her love of nature continues as she takes any opportunity she can to hike or bike, she said. You can also find her at nature festivals in efforts to seek information she can share with her students.