Growing up in Vale, Oregon, Tessa Hamilton never considered education as a profession.

“I always loved kids, but teaching, I just never thought about it,” Hamilton said.

But when she was a freshman at Boise State University, Hamilton enrolled in an introduction to education class.

And she got hooked.

“I fell in love with it,” she said.

Hamilton, a 2016 BSU graduate, is now embarking on a teaching career that begins in Leavenworth.

Hamilton, 23, is one of approximately 60 first-year teachers in the Leavenworth school district.

She began her new career Wednesday as a second-grade teacher at Lawson Elementary School.

“I felt like I knew what I was doing,” she said. “The first couple of days, we did a lot of talking about classroom rules and some getting-to-know-you games. We are starting to build relationships with each other. I was surprised by how quickly they got more comfortable. They warmed up to me pretty quickly.”

Hamilton said the district’s new teacher orientation program and teacher in-service program prior to the start of school were helpful.

“That helped me get ready to take on the year,” she said.

Hamilton has prepared lesson plans for the 12 children in her classroom.

“But it never goes according to plan. You have to be flexible,” she said.

She said that it’s important to keep a consistent daily schedule in the classroom. Students will read and do math at specific times each day.

Hamilton describes herself as a teacher who builds relationships with her students.

“They have to trust you to come to you with their problems,” she said.

Hamilton has prepared herself for many long days ahead.

She arises at 5 a.m. each day to commute from Lawrence, Kansas. After a day of teaching 8-year-olds, she makes the commute back to Lawrence.

“It’s a pretty full day,” she said.

Hamilton said she would like to coach at the school or club level in the future, but for her first year, she is devoting all of her attention to teaching.

Hamilton said she is certain she made the right decision to go into teaching.

“I feel confident and excited for the rest of the year,” she said.

She said the staff at Lawson Elementary has made her feel “welcome and comfortable.”

Stefanie Bourne, principal at Lawson Elementary, has been impressed by Hamilton.

“Tessa is a very energetic teacher and has a true passion for kids,” Bourne said. “Her enthusiasm for teaching and being in the classroom was apparent in her interview and I knew that I had to have her in a classroom here at Lawson Elementary.”

Bourne describes Hamilton as a team player who has already made friends with the school staff.

“She has been putting in long nights in her classroom trying to prepare for the beginning of school, all while having an ear infection and not feeling well,” Bourne said. “I have not heard her once complain. She is one of the most positive people that I have met and I am grateful that she chose Lawson. We are lucky to have her as part of the Lawson family and I am so excited to see what wonderful things she does with/for kids this year.”