EARLY — Like many of her peers, Early Primary School kindergarten teacher Darcy Stockman can pinpoint how, when and why she knew she wanted to be a teacher.

Growing up in Round Rock, Stockman knew her path from the third grade onward. “I had an awesome third-grade teacher and she just kind of paved the way for me,” Stockman said. “She was very soft spoken and kind, and she had ways to get us motivated, keep us motivated.

“I’ll never forget her. I had several other teachers that made an impact too, but I just kind of always knew that that’s what I wanted to do.”

Now in her 13th year as a teacher — all at Early Primary School — Stockman believes she continues to be influenced in her own classroom by the way her third-grade teacher did her job.

Stockman graduated from Texas Tech University and began looking for a teaching job. Early Primary was her first offer, and she started as an aide who taught music. Stockman went on to teach first grade for six years, then taught second grade for four years before becoming a kindergarten teacher.

Stockman said kindergarten has been her favorite grade, and she is drawn to the innocence of the children. “They’re just little sponges,” Stockman said. “They soak everything up, and they love you. They make learning fun, and it’s amazing to watch them learn things.

“I like a challenge, and it’s definitely new every day. They have to have a good foundation to be  good people one day, and I just feel like I get to be the one that starts that for them.”

Stockman and her husband, Jack, are the parents of two boys who are in grades four and two. She said her husband “is actually the reason I’m here. We’ve been married 12 years. He’s my best friend.

“He grew up around here. We’ve settled roots here, and this is home.”

Stockman said the “mom” in her gives her empathy for “some of the kids that need a little extra love.”

Stockman said it’s amazing to see children start kindergarten “barely able to go to the rest room on their own, like there’s no independence, then by the end of the school year, they’re reading, they’re writing, they have so much more confidence.

“It’s so much fun to watch them mature and know that I had a small hand in that.”

It takes patience and compassion to be a teacher, Stockman said. “You have to know that not every kid learns it the same way,” she said. “You have to want to be around kids and appreciate the innocence and how charismatic they are. Everything is new. Everything’s exciting.”