Storme Freeman has been a teacher for 35 years, having taught kindergarten through sixth grade throughout her career. She also taught a multi-age classroom with first through third graders for three years.
Freeman started her education at Mt. San Jacinto College in the early 1980s. From there, she received her teaching credential and a bachelor’s degree in human development from the University of California, Riverside. She went on to get her master’s in administration from Azusa Pacific University in 1987.
“Back then, Azusa Pacific would come to Hemet. So, it was a great opportunity to keep my education going right after I finished my bachelor’s,” Freeman explained.
Freeman first made her way to Idyllwild over a decade ago while coaching new teachers within the Hemet Unified School District (HUSD). She knew then that she wanted to work at Idyllwild School.
“About 12 years ago, I came up here for the first time to the school and fell in love,” Freeman said. “It was a little jewel. I told myself before I retire, my dream will be to come up here.”
Freeman is taking the spot of Diana Kirkham, who retired at the end of the last school year after 36 years of teaching. Kirkham worked at Idyllwild School for four years teaching kindergarten, first and second grades.
“My motto has always been, go slow to go fast,” Freeman explained. “You need to take your time to get to know these kids and build relationships. It’s going to be interesting behind a computer screen, but I’ll be teaching in front of the camera just like I would in the classroom.”
Knowing that COVID-19 is only temporary, Freeman has an optimistic outlook for this school year regardless of the challenges.
“We are all in this together — it’s nationwide — and we will make it work,” Freeman said. “That’s what teachers do.”
Freeman became a teacher for a few different reasons, but one of them was due to her own school experience.
“As a student, I hated school,” Freeman admitted. “I had a few teachers that I connected with, but overall, it wasn’t a good experience.”
As an adult, Freeman was looking for a career that would line up with other aspects of her life.
“I was a mom and had kids and I had a lot of friends that were teachers,” Freeman said. “When I went to my first class, that was it. I knew it was what I was made to do.”
Ultimately, Freeman wants kids to have positive memories of their education and school experience — to love school and not fear it.
“The relationship with the teacher makes the difference,” Freeman explained. “You’re affecting the future. It’s a big job. For me, my first experiences in school as a kid was out of fear. I don’t ever want kids to feel that. I want them to love it.”
Consistency is also very important to Freeman. While improvising is part of the job, she attributes her classroom success to planning.
“You have to figure out how to make things exciting and engaging,” she said. “Whatever it takes to make the content fun is what you have to do.”
Freeman explained how lucky schools are within HUSD compared to other districts, allowing students to learn at their own pace.
“In HUSD, we are very blessed,” Freeman said. “Your curriculum has a pacing guide, but we have leadership that understands instruction and understands learning. They understand some kids take longer than others to learn and they respect that.”
When I asked her what advice she would give new teachers she explained, “You do it because you love it. Be gentle with yourself and know you won’t be perfect in the beginning. Just be yourself. Show up every day with a smile and you’re going to be fine.
“I promised myself I would end my career in the classroom,” Freeman said at the end of our interview. “I have at least a few years left and I hope to end it at Idyllwild School. I just love it here.”
As Idyllwild School begins its new school year, please welcome Storme Freeman to the community.