MNPS Voices: Dr. Becky Swanson

MNPS Voices: Dr. Becky Swanson, Instructional Specialist/Interventionist, Hattie Cotton Elementary School
Posted on 11/01/2023
Becky Swanson

Dr. Becky Swanson

After graduating from law school, Dr. Becky Swanson sensed she was needed more in the classroom than the courtroom. She found her passion and dedicated 32 years of her 33-year teaching career to Metro Nashville Public Schools, working with English Learners students.

Swanson is still going strong for her students today, long after she officially called time on her career.

One week after she retired 10 years ago from the EL program at H.G. Hill Middle School, where she was an instructional specialist, Swanson was asked to return to her old position as a substitute teacher until a replacement could be secured. Fast-forward 10 years, and she has supported multiple schools across the district, including John F. Kennedy Middle and Alex Green Elementary.

Swanson now serves as the instructional specialist/interventionist at Hattie Cotton STEM Magnet Elementary School, where she has spent the past two years supporting EL students as a part-time employee who gives her school even more than she’s obligated to give.

“I was appreciative that Dr. Adams felt like I could contribute something to the school,” Swanson said.

Dr. Jocelyn Adams, the executive principal at Hattie Cotton, praises Dr. Swanson’s commitment to the students there and her passion for teaching. Dr. Swanson working with a student in class

“Dr. Swanson is extremely dedicated and devoted to our students, school, and community. Because of her motivation, the students eagerly participate in learning sessions and strive to reach their academic goals, as she creates a purposeful and exciting learning environment for students. Dr. Swanson prides herself in being present, prepared, positive, and productive! In fact, last year she had perfect attendance. The students she serves are challenged to reach their full potential and are living out the mission of Hattie Cotton STEM Magnet Elementary School, as they learn at high levels every day under her instructional guidance.”

Part-Time Employee, Full-Time Teacher

Swanson works with MNPS as a retiree through a 120-day contract, which means she is ineligible for compensation beyond the contracted days. To ensure that her students don’t fall behind, she volunteers her time on the days when she doesn’t work.

“I realize I can only be paid for my 900 hours of work, but I volunteer to give the rest of my time, because learning doesn’t stop for these kids,” she says. “I can’t stop midstream, because they still need support. My goal is to make sure that my students have as much as possible under their belts to carry them so they don’t lose much learning during the summer.”

Swanson’s commitment to her students is admirable, but she makes an even bigger pledge to herself. She does not like to miss work, and even as a student herself, she missed very little school.

Swanson recognized at an early age that learning ceases when the student or teacher is not present. She openly shares that the only time she has ever missed work was to have chemotherapy treatments for cancer, and even then she would immediately return to work. She believes that continuing to engage in something that she enjoyed helped her heal at a faster rate.

Foundations in MNPS

Swanson’s educational background is extensive, but she got her start as a student in MNPS and a graduate of Stratford High School. She then earned a bachelor’s degree in government and public affairs from Tennessee State University and her law degree from North Carolina Central University. Later she returned to TSU, where she earned a master’s degree in reading and a doctorate in administration.

Swanson is a passionate educator who believes once students have an education, it cannot be taken away from them. Working primarily with kindergarten through fifth grade students with language barriers, she finds it most rewarding to see her students excel both academically and professionally. She is proud to say that some of her former students are local business owners, police officers, physicians, and pharmacists.

When Swanson is not teaching and cheering on her students, she enjoys baking, reading, and traveling with her husband. They have traveled to over 40 countries, including Cuba and parts of Africa, and plan to continue their beautiful and educational journeys together.

English Learners Survey

Families, is your student an English learner? Do you speak a language other than English at home?

If so, we want your feedback on improving instruction and language proficiency. Please take a few minutes to answer a survey, available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Burmese, Kurdish, Somali, Spanish and Swahili. 

Deadline is November 10.

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