Teacher Spotlight: Lindy McCollam

Teacher Spotlight: Lindy McCollam

Five, Six, Seven, Eight – WHO DO WE APPRECIATE? Hardin Valley Elementary 5th grade teacher and HVMS cheer coach, Lindy McCollam, will have your kids doing backflips for math!

Adam: Where were you born? 

Lindy: Escondido, California.


Adam: What was your elementary school mascot?

Lindy: Jaguars. 


Adam: What college did you go to? 

Lindy: I graduated from Tennessee Tech.


Adam: What did you major in? 

Lindy: My final major was Elementary Education, K through sixth grade. 

Adam: What major did you start with?

Lindy: I started at UTC and was majoring in middle grades (fourth through eighth) with a concentration in Math. When I had my son, I came back to Knoxville and did the Pellissippi program which only offered K through sixth grade. 


Adam: How did you end up in Knoxville? 

Lindy: During my sophomore year of high school my mom’s job transferred here. 

Adam: What high school did you graduate from?

Lindy: Bearden. I was a Bulldog! 


Adam: How many years have you taught? 

Lindy: This is my sixth year. 


Adam: Where all have you taught? 

Lindy: They have all been here.  I did my student teaching at AL Lotts, but other than that I’ve been here at Hardin Valley Elementary. 


Adam: Which grade do you teach? 

Lindy: Fifth grade math exclusively. 

Adam: Do all of the kids rotate through to you? 

Lindy: We have three man teams. I teach math, somebody teaches ELA and then somebody teaches science and social studies. I have three blocks of math. 


Adam: What clubs do you sponsor and what sports do you coach? 

Lindy: I coach cheer at the middle school.  I had to take a step back from the other clubs in order to keep coaching cheer.

Adam: How are the girls doing this year? 

Lindy: They’re doing really good. We’re actually in our last week of games, but they’re a solid group. We get a lot of compliments. They have a lot of talent.

Adam: I’ve heard a lot of that myself! Great coaching.


Adam: Why did you get into teaching? 

Lindy: I struggled a little bit choosing my major.  I didn’t grow up knowing that I wanted to teach. When I really sat there and thought about it and looked at the different options, I realized that teaching was ultimately what I always wanted to do even though it wasn’t something I stated. When I was little, I used to play school and use my allowances to go to the education store to buy workbooks.  When I reflected on how I carried myself naturally, I realized that path was always there. Once I really started my practicums, it proved to be the right place. 

Adam: What would you do if you weren’t in teaching?

Lindy: I’d probably be a stay at home mom. Realistically, that probably couldn’t happen. I’d probably be a project manager or something of some sort. 

Adam: What kind of project manager?

Lindy: I don’t know that I would necessarily care which avenue, but I like paperwork and I like being in charge.  I like managing money and making sure people are doing what needs to be done. My mom’s a project manager.

Adam: Where’s she working?

Lindy: She works with CoreLogic right down the road.  She deals with the real estate MLS system. The relationships formed from her old job in San Diego are what brought her out here. She’s a hard worker.


Adam: Who was your favorite teacher when you were a student?

Lindy: My favorite teacher was probably my fifth grade teacher, Mr. McKnab. He’s the main teacher that I remember learning a lot from. He made school current.  Every week we had to report and present something from the news, the weather, or something that was happening in our community. It really helped us with our presenting and speaking skills.  Fifth grade was probably some of my best memories. 


Adam: Which educator at Hardin Valley Elementary have you learned the most from? 

Lindy: I’d say my teammate, Ms. Griffin. She helped guide me from the beginning.  Her relationships with her students are impeccable. It’s cool to see that firsthand and pick up some things from her.  Even the way she deals with the fifth grade drama. She really is just like a mama to her classroom and all the kids know it. The way she handles and builds relationships and knows that it’s okay to stop what you’re doing sometimes and just have a moment with your class is really cool. 


Adam:  What personal accomplishment are you most proud? 

Lindy: My proudest moment is obviously my son.  The birth of my son and adapting to his differences and learning a new way of parenting and making him successful since he is nonverbal and on the [autism] spectrum. I’d say a lot of my moments with him are my proudest accomplishments for how far we’ve come with our communication. 

Adam: How old is he now? 

Lindy: He’s eight. He’ll be nine in March. I’m in denial big time. 


Adam: What do you wish every parent knew?

Lindy: I think my biggest thing that I would want parents to focus on, is letting the kids be kids.  Definitely hold them accountable, but when they leave school they need to be kids. They work hard here in school, and when they go home they need to be able to go outside to play and do sports.  This is why I don’t really assign homework. I want them to be able to be with family and friends and digress from the day. I think that would probably be the biggest thing. 


Adam: What do you wish every student knew? 

Lindy: That they are truly capable of anything. Students nowadays are more stressed out about not knowing something in the moment and struggling with understanding that it’s okay because you haven’t learned it yet. Creating a growth mindset for them is really important.  While we’re struggling now, if we keep working hard, the results will come. I want them to be able to believe in themselves and to know that if they keep trying without shutting down that a lot can be achieved. 

Adam: Yes! They get immediately discouraged on the first day of a several day lesson.  

Lindy: They really do.  Sometimes when we finish a lesson, if they’re still struggling, I want them to know that they’re not going to be left behind.  We’ll keep working at it.

Adam: I’m glad you have that mindset as a math teacher. 

Lindy: You have to. 

Adam: What’s the difference between a good and a great teacher? 

Lindy: A good teacher is someone who comes in and does the minimum requirements and  treats it like a checklist. A great teacher is someone who pours in a little more than just your day to day things and finds ways to make the classroom fun and engaging for the kids.  They are excited about coming and really building a community in your classroom so that it’s somewhere that the kids want to come rather than feeling like they have to come. 


Adam: What improvement would you most like to see made to public education? 

Lindy: I would like for there to be a rework on how we’re holding kids accountable when it comes to testing. I wish there was a way for us to get rid of the testing and still have a way in the classroom on a daily basis to get that same data without having the pressure of end of the year testing that is constantly changing.  We never feel like we can fully prepare them for it, and it feels like we set them up for failure with that type of environment. 

Adam: That’s a good one! 


Adam: What is something that you could use in your classroom? 

Lindy: Headphones. Not earbuds. Just a class set of headphones that the kids can share. 

Adam: How many is in a class set? 

Lindy: Probably around 24 on average. I’ll take anything that will last a couple of years! 


Adam: What hobbies do you have? 

Lindy: I do a lot of reading and crafting with my mom. I do enjoy decorating as well. With my free time, I enjoy going to concerts a lot and traveling. 

Adam: Who do you like to listen to and where do you like to go?

Lindy: I mostly go to Atlanta, Nashville, and Charlotte for my concerts. Some venues are intimate and some are at arenas, but really anything R&B. 

Adam: I can’t do R&B or country music.

Lindy: I can’t stand country. I love R&B though. Chris Brown is my top favorite. My friends on road trips hate when I drive because it just puts them to sleep. Haha!


Adam: What is a good way for a student or a parent to spoil you? 

Lindy: My kids spoil me with Twix. They know the way to my heart. 

Adam: Have you ever had one of the giant Twix? 

Lindy: I haven’t had one of the big ones, no!  I’m real particular about how I like them anyway. I feel like when they make them bigger they don’t taste the same. 

Adam: No, they don’t. It’s the ratios! 

Lindy: I like the mini sized ones. I’m almost to a point where I’m a little burnt out on them because my kids have gotten them for me so much. So I’m taking a brief break, but I’ll be back. 

Adam: Just the standard caramel ones?

Lindy:  I’ll do the white ones a little bit, but I just like the original for the most part.

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