Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as a teacher.
Students will take on as many challenges as we give them with the proper levels of support and appropriately high expectations. Watching a child work through challenging reading tasks until he begins to become a fluent reader, for example, is unlike any other kind of joy. One of the most challenging parts of teaching is slowing down—but there is power in slowing down. Power in slowing down to ask the one child if he is feeling okay because he seems a little off this morning. Power in slowing down to reteach a lesson that maybe didn’t go over as well as planned. Power in building up a student with low confidence by tweaking tasks and creating individualized behavior plans. The truth is that the challenges and joys are so closely connected.
Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.
In addition to full-time teaching, I also act as a mentor for new teachers in my school. Observing another teacher brings a whole different set of challenges in working to give constructive feedback while also being conscious of personalities, emotional needs, and what others deem as constructive. I have been able to grow my own teaching practices in observing and reflecting on the teaching practices of my mentees.
Over the course of your career, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?
I would say this award is up there! I would also say that supporting families through the sometimes long, and sometimes emotional, process of getting educational supports in place for their children is up there as well.
What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated and hard-working educator?
As Whitney Houston once said: “I believe the children are our future…” In all seriousness, I do think that I am blessed with a career that gives to me as much as I give to it every day. I am so fulfilled in my soul by kids finding their voice as learners. That is what keeps me motivated.