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We are Family

Joanne Compton has taught first grade at PD since 1977 and her son John Compton has been an Upper School teacher since 2009.

Joanne Compton: I’ve been here for 34 years. I started in 1977 and taught for seven years until John was born, and then I stayed home until he was in the second grade and came back. So that has gotten me to this year, which is also going to be my last year at Providence Day. I’m going to retire at the end of this year. I plan to wear the Golden Crown (as a Golden Charger), absolutely.

John Compton: I am a Providence Day lifer. I graduated in 2004, came back here in 2009, and have been teaching since. So this is my 11th year now as a history teacher, cross country coach, track coach… (and) junior class assistant dean.

Joanne Compton: I would like to say that probably one of the most special things about being at Providence Day is getting the family feel that you have, because you do watch students on their journey as you are on your teaching journey, and you really do get to see them grow and mature. Sometimes you think ‘Oh my gosh, they didn’t change a bit.’ Other times you may think ‘I would never have thought this child would grow to be someone who would do that.’ Sometimes the encounters are chance encounters…. Other times they’re intentional encounters that I look for someone to say ‘I saw the tweet about you or the thing in the Providence Day news about you, and I’m so excited to read that.’ 

John Compton: One thing that’s always nice on the first day of school is, I can ask my classes, ‘So who had my mom?’ And it’s fun to see the kids who hadn’t made that connection yet, and then I can hear a lot of awesome stuff about my mom on the first day of school, and it’s a nice icebreaker with a group of kids I may not necessarily know that well.

Joanne Compton: A couple of (my former students) have talked about considering teaching or writing. I’m waiting to hear what they’re going to do, and that’s exciting.

John Compton: I majored in history and thought I would love to do nothing more than work in a museum, and then I interned in a museum and it was not the best experience. But what was fun those days was when I got to work with the education staff. I was just a research guy but there were a few days when they needed all hands on deck. I was like ‘Wow, this is actually an incredibly rewarding experience.’

Joanne Compton: My husband is also an educator, he’s the chair of the advertising and graphic design program at Central Piedmont Community College. When John was in the stage of deciding about being a teacher, we told him if he wanted to be a teacher, if that was his passion, we would fully support him. But we said ‘If you just want to fall into it because you didn’t think of anything else you wanted to do, never.’

Because teaching is something you have to have a passion for. You don’t do it for the money (even though Providence Day is very generous), you don’t do it for huge acclaim, but boy all the small acts of love that occur in the day, it’s so rewarding. It truly is. All the work at nights and on the weekends and in the summer, that all adds up to - if it’s your passion, you don’t even think about it. It’s ‘ah, I have to work on this’ or ‘I gotta get together with my team about this.’ Follow a passion for teaching and you’ll never regret it.

John Compton: I was able to switch gears the last minute my senior year in college, get my teaching degree, and here I am.

Joanne Compton: The fun thing is to walk through the Dining Hall and students who used to be first graders are now in fourth grade and they are waving and hollering. At the beginning of the school year my children who are now second graders are peeping in the window or waving when they’re coming down the hall. No matter where they are in life, they’re still my first graders.

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  • Issue 2
  • Leigh Dyer
  • Providence Day Magazine
  • Volume 5