Princeton Times

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January 27, 2013

Spelling Bee Moderator Broyles: pressure teaches students poise, persistence

PRINCETON — When a child gets invested in activity, the family often becomes heavily invested as well. Such is the case for Mercer County Spelling Bee Pronouncer and Academic Bowl Moderator Rebecca Broyles.

Her association with the Mercer County Spelling Bee began when her son, Paul, competed. Eventually, he made his way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“By the time he went to national, he was practicing at least one or two hours a day,” Broyles said. “And we were there with him every step of the way. [Broyles and her husband Paul] alternated as his coaches.”

Broyles continued with the spelling bee competitions after her son passed the age of competition. After her son left, so did the pronouncer for the competition, eventually Broyles agreed to take the place.

She said that she enjoyed watching the students competing handle the pressure. She believed that a certain amount of nervousness was good for them because it made them sharper. However, she didn’t enjoy watching them struggle to function with nervousness.

“My son, Paul, had just the right balance that you need to get to national,” Broyles said. “You have to take it seriously enough to practice but not so much that you can’t function outside of the competition.”

Having watched her son compete at the national level and serving as a moderator for the Mercer County Bee for several years, Broyles has advice those young spellers looking to follow in her son’s footsteps to the national competition.

She said it was good to see several fourth- and fifth-grade spellers in the county bee this year. When they participate at a young level, the spellers might be inspired to put in the work necessary.

Broyles said keys to success were practice and reading. If a student reads, Broyles believes that when they’re faced with an unfamiliar word or panic in competition, the words that they’ve read may pop into their head.

“Mr. Chaffins does a great job calming the kids down at the beginning of the bee,” Broyles said. “It’s always so fun to watch them compete.”

She added that the experience of the competing in the bee, even if a child panics will be good for them. It exposes them to pressure and teaches them poise and persistence.

Broyles also shared that she too had once competed in a spelling bee.

“I won a spelling bee,” Broyles said. “I was the only person in grammar school that could spell the word Kindergarten.”

Broyles also explained that Mercer County Board of Education Information Specialist Kellan Sarles had become familiar with her work as pronouncer for the county spelling bee, Sarles asked her to serve as moderator for the academic bowl competition.

“I just think what they do in the schools is wonderful,” Broyles said. “It’s exciting to be around people who have put so much effort into the program.”

Wednesday night, the school board paid Broyles’ effort back with an induction into their 110 percent club. President Greg Prudich said that volunteers truly make the school system function better.

— Contact Matt Christian at mchristian@ptonline.net.

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