Heather Kent calls Pathways a "second home."
Heather Kent knew since high school that she wanted to become a teacher, but she decided to put her family first.
After two years in college, she put her education on hold to become a stay-at-home mom and take care of her kids. Kent also worked as a substitute teacher during that time, but she still felt there was something missing. At age 40, she graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's in education.
“It’s one thing to go to school and become a teacher," Kent said. :It’s another thing to actually be handed a key, given a classroom and say ‘OK. They’re yours.’”
While originally wanting to teach kindergarten, Kent's first job was a third and fourth grade combo class in South Daytona Elementary in January, 2012— and she hasn't looked back.
“It actually turned out to be such a blessing," Kent said.
Now, Kent teaches fourth grade reading, language arts and social studies at Pathways Elementary. She said she loves seeing the advances her students make as writers throughout the year. Though at first she questioned whether or not she chose the right profession due to the job's demanding nature, especially since she began teaching her first class mid-year, Kent said that is no longer the case.
“I look back now and realize that was the best preparation I could have possibly had," Kent said.
Pathways also holds a special place in her heart. It's the school where her sons attended and where she substituted for three years. It's also where she met her husband, City Commissioner Troy Kent, who was her son's fifth grade teacher at the time.
“Somehow, Pathways has always been in our lives," Kent said.
Kent said she's humbled her peers thought of her when nominating her for Teacher of the Year. As a fairly new teacher, going in to her sixth year of teaching in January 2018, she said she's constantly learning from her students, coworkers and administrators alike.
“I know that I have so much more yet still to learn, but I’m excited.” Kent said.