Hollywood Elementary School
1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?
I am currently in transition. Last year I taught science and social studies to 3 classes of 5th grade students. I enjoy teaching these subjects because it is so vital to foster inquiry in students, and these subjects make it easy to do. I love using the project based learning model, and I enjoy co-planning to create integrated units for the students to thrive. This year, I will be teaching English Language Arts to 3 classes of 5th graders. I am excited to infuse PBL into my ELA classroom ,and plan to integrate science and social studies to make impactful units to help students succeed in ELA as well as the other content areas.
I arrive at school at 7:30, when I prepare my space for the day. At 7:50 I meet students at the door with a smile and a good morning, something that is so very important and that sets the tone for the day. For the remainder of the day, I am in the trenches with students, working to help them be the best version of themselves.
2.) What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?
“Success breeds success;” celebrating a student’s small successes will build confidence and lead to further success.
3.) Why did you become an educator?
I had some really great teachers who made learning fun. I wanted to be one of those teachers who made hard things seem simple. I also had an ineffective teacher. I wanted to become a teacher because I remember what it was like sitting in that classroom, and at home at night, and being so frustrated because I wanted to learn and understand, but I couldn’t and when I went to her to ask for help, she simply told me the answer. I remember being so frustrated. So I wanted to become a teacher to make learning engaging and exciting, and my classroom a place where all students would be successful.
4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?
I believe that SC educators work hard and are always on the lookout for best practices for students. I want to bring great strategies to those in my district and hope to share effective strategies from my district with other representatives so that teachers have more access to strategies that work for SC students. I also want to be a voice for our students and teachers, since I am in the classroom and see firsthand the successes and struggles that occur here.
5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?
Teaching Science with Interactive Notebooking by Kelli Marcarelli
The WildCard by Wade and Hope King
Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins
6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.
I remember my very first day of teaching content, probably the third day of school. I was really nervous about how the lesson would go. It was a social studies lesson, and I knew students had mixed emotions about social studies from an interest inventory I had given on day one. However, about 10 minutes into the lesson I realized that students were on the edge of their seats! They had an excited look in their eyes and their hands were shooting up with questions, and I thought, “this is what I’m meant to do!” I have to come back to that memory sometimes when things get tough! There is no better feeling than standing in front of a group of kids that are thrilled to be learning!
7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?
There are so many controversial topics in education, and I understand both sides of the topics, but something I would love to see more of in education is mentorship. I believe that teachers need mentors, but even administrators need mentorship as well. When we were a TAP school, teachers regularly received feedback from mentors. These mentors shared the teacher’s successes, which made the teacher feel validated for all of the hard work that he/she was putting into the classroom, but also offered suggestions and strategies for areas that need improvement. In our building we all loved the constant feedback, as well as having someone we could go to to bounce ideas off. When teachers don’t have a mentor, they might know they struggle in an area, but because they don’t know a better way, they continue to use the same ineffective practice. However, when someone comes in with fresh ideas, working as a team, teachers begin to feel comfortable trying new things. It also holds teachers accountable, something that people are constantly saying education needs more of. I feel that administrators would benefit (and therefore everyone in the building) from this mentorship with accountability as well.
8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?
My most rewarding experience is everytime a student begins to believe that he/she can be successful at learning. Recently I had a student come to my classroom on an end of first grade reading level. She couldn’t count past 100, and honestly I thought she might need a different placement. But, the ESL teacher and I teamed up to help her catch up. The ESL teacher pulled her regularly, I worked one-on-one with her, and she had lots of cheerleaders. By the time the child left my classroom, she was reading on grade level and could do grade level math! She was such a hard worker, but it was rewarding to see her begin to believe in herself a little more each day and the smile on her face each time she read successfully and fluently was more rewarding than money. Plus, it is so fun to work with other teachers to come up with a plan to overcome challenges that students are facing. We are better together!