Chelsie Abrams transitions from elementary to middle school

Chelsie Abrams is a new teacher at Sevier this year. She took the place of Karen Bear as sixth grade language arts teacher. This is her first year teaching middle school.

Even so, she is an experienced teacher.

“I started my teaching journey in Durham, North Carolina as a fourth-grade teacher,” she said. “I then moved back to Johnson City, where I taught third grade at Ashley Academy for five years. I knew I enjoyed teaching older children, so I taught 4th grade virtually for Johnson City Schools before deciding to take extra classes to teach middle school.”

Abrams has two teenage children, Lily and Riley.

“Lily is a varsity cheerleader and was just accepted to the University of Tennessee. Riley plays lacrosse,” she said.

Abrams was born in Savannah, Georgia, but she was mostly raised in Knoxville. She has lived in many other places.

“I have lived in many places: Bonaire, Netherland Antilles (an island off the coast of Venezuela), Dallas, TX, Indianapolis, IN, Chicago, IL, Orlando, FL, Hollywood, FL,” she said. “I currently live in Johnson City, but love working in Kingsport. It is a wonderful community.”

Many adults don’t talk about their middle school experience because it can be a difficult time period. Adjusting was difficult for Abrams, as things were changing in her group of friends.

“Middle school was an awkward time for me,” she said. “My friends from elementary school had become friends with other kids. New social groups were formed. Everyone had changed.”

At first, she found it difficult to fit in.

“I know some may find this hard to believe, but I was a quiet and shy middle schooler,” Abrams said. “It took me a while to make new friends that I fit in with. I wasn’t quite sure who I was socially. I started playing sports and joined some clubs and found my people. It did take some time and quite a bit of effort, but it was worth it.”

She learned how much she wanted to work with children after coaching a running team at her own kids’ elementary school. So, she decided to switch jobs.

“Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked in the airline industry as a Customer Service Supervisor for almost ten years,” she said. “After the devastation of September 11th, the airline industry struggled to recover. I went back to school and received a degree in Nuclear Medicine. I worked in Nuclear Medicine until I realized education was my true calling.”

To become a teacher, she had to go back to school.

“I attended ETSU, Northeast State, Broward College, and Western Governors University,” Abrams said. “I have degrees in General Science, Nuclear Medicine, and Interdisciplinary Studies K-8.” Abrams said.

Abrams loves to read books; that is a main reason why she wanted to become a language arts teacher.

“Reading is definitely a passion of mine,” she said. “One of my favorite things is to read books that are made into movies or shows and then watch the movie or show to do a comparison. The book is 99% of the time better.”

Abrams made the switch from elementary to middle school because she wanted to work with older children.

“I love the engaging conversations you can have with older children,” she said. “Sevier had a position available and, thankfully, I was hired. Sevier has wonderful students and staff. I feel blessed to work here.”

Abrams loves when students come and tell her about their day or are excited about an accomplishment. Teaching is not always just filled with good events.

“The worst thing about being a teacher is having to be mean sometimes,” she said. “When students are being disrespectful or failing to meet expectations, I have to take disciplinary action. I do not like being the bad guy, but sometimes it is necessary.”

In her free time, Abrams likes to do outdoor stuff, like kayaking and hiking, and goes to her kids’ games.

“I have jumped out of a plane three times,” she said. “I am also a certified SCUBA diver.”

Abrams favorite and least favorite memory related to school was her own graduation.

“My school journey was amazing,” she said. “I was so grateful to have accomplished so much and to have been successful. Nothing beats walking across the stage knowing you did it. It was also my least favorite because I knew I would be going on a different journey than some of my friends.”

Now that she works at Sevier, Abrams’ impression of her new school is on the good side.

“Sevier is full of wonderful diversity,” she said. “I love the community and acceptance of each other. I know this does not encompass all the students, but my hope is that they will learn from others. There really are some great people here that show how to be loving, caring, and accepting.”

Abrams’ biggest challenge at Sevier is her students’ behavior.

“It is unfortunate, but some students just have little or no respect for others,” she said. “It is difficult to have class when you have one student that thinks they need to be the center of attention, so they cause constant disruptions. It’s even worse when there is more than one.”

She also has some advice for her students.

“Stay positive and be the best you can be,” she said.