My earliest interaction with the teaching profession began in my sophomore year in high school. I was enrolled in the Junior Achievement program, in which two other student and I would instruct third grade students on a simplified economy lesson. I excelled in this and was granted permission to lead a class by myself during my senior year. The supervising teacher urged me to pursue teaching as a career. I was later selected as Reading Eagle's "Person of the Week" for my work in the Junior Achievement program.
In college, I had a number of experiences prior to student teaching that gave me a chance to see a large variety of different schools and instructional methods. My longest running and most significant was in Mr. Robert McCurdy's first grade classroom at James Burd Elementary School in Shippensburg, PA. Under his mentorship, I learned to meet the needs of all learners. We collaborated on cross curricular methods, one of which was a completely student-driven writing and production of a play. I spent 3 semesters and over 250 hours with Mr. McCurdy, and credit him to many of my methods. Additionally, I spent a one semester practicum in Montessori Academy of Chambersburg in Chambersburg, PA. Based in the 1-3 grade room, I was able to see the Montessori method at work. I learned much about play as learning and strive to incorporate this into my daily instruction. During the time prior to student teaching, I visited and observed schools in rural settings (Biglerville, PA) and urban settings (Reading, PA.) These helped me to broaden my perspective on teaching. All of these experiences helped to prepare me for my student teaching and beyond.
From January to May of 2013, I completed my student teaching in a third grade classroom at James Burd Elementary School, with Ms. Amanda Fenn as my cooperating teacher and Ms. Annie Papero as my supervising professor. While Shippensburg University requires two full weeks of the student teacher fully taking the reigns, I committed to and successfully completed eight full weeks and eight partial weeks. During this time, I put a large focus on crafting a love of learning with my students, specifically in reading. I developed a Reading Buddies program with another student teacher. My class would read to her kindergarten class. This program seemed to be engaging and motivating to both grade levels. Additionally, I implemented a Reader's Cafe program. My students selected books, worked in partners to develop meaningful questions, and learned various roles such as waiter, host, and busperson. This culminated in a week long experience in which my students read to members of the school board, administration, teachers, family members, and other students. I hope to implement this in the future. I feel that my student teaching helped to lay groundwork for a successful teaching career.
Upon graduation, I worked as a substitute teacher for Shippensburg Area School District. While this experience was short (due to my lease expiring,) I gained some valuable insight into teaching and developed a strong appreciation for substitute teachers. I make it a mission to leave detailed plans for substitutes and try to instill respect for these teachers with my students.
My first full time teaching position was at Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School in Front Royal, VA. I began in August 2013 and I am currently still working there. I teach all subjects (reading/language arts, math, VA studies, and science) in an inclusion class, with support from a special education teacher. I work to build a positive classroom community, beginning every day with a morning meeting and constantly checking in with the class and individuals to best serve their social-emotional needs. In my opinion, students cannot learn unless they feel safe, welcomed, and secure. In an effort to create a welcoming environment, my classroom utilizes yoga balls for chairs and a superhero theme.
I also do hold my students to high standards. Each student is expected to stay on task and work to the best of their ability. Most subjects are taught in small groups, either student-led or by me. This allows students to constantly review skills and develop problem solving skills. We use gamification frequently to increase motivation and engagement. Additionally, my classroom is a place where technology is integrated in many purposeful and effective methods. We use Google Apps for Education to collaborate on work and as a learning management system. Students use Chromebooks daily to review math and reading skills. It is my goal to educate students to become technologically relevant in this digital age.
The 2015-2016 school year brought a number of changes to my professional career, specifically in regards to technology. Through crowdfunding, my classroom became the first 1:1 Chromebook classroom in the entire county school system. This allowed me to provide individualized instruction on each student's level every single day. We implemented a flipped classroom for math, which has been well-received by students and parents alike.
I also became a Google for Education Certified Trainer. Since achieving this rank, I have provided professional development at the Virginia Society for Technology in Education conference, Google for Education Summits, and various other regional events. Furthermore, I was selected as one of 34 individuals from across the globe to participate in the Google for Education Certified Innovator Academy. After a rigorous application process, we were tasked with working toward solving a problem in education. I chose to empower families to aid in mathematics at home, as an extension of my Home-School Connection Night program.
In addition to my classroom responsibilities at WCPS, I served on the Autism Service Improvement Team on the coaching subcommittee for the county. I was the General Education representative and help to make decisions on how the coaching program will be implemented. I also acted as unofficial technology aid on this committee. I was also part of a Google Educator Consortium through Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, VA. I have presented on Google Sites and Green Screen by Do Ink to this consortium and had been granted the privilege of helping to lead technology professional development in the county. I also had taught the Extended School Year program for 4/5 graders with IEP or TDT needs.
In 2016, I left Warren County Public Schools for a fourth grade position with Stafford County Public Schools. This was a good transition for me as I relocated further south in Virginia. I brought many of my outside of the box instructional techniques with me, including the flipped classroom model, high emphasis on technology integration, and others. I served on the leadership team at the school and helped with SOL tutoring.
As I look to the future, I realize I have two main passions in education: helping students grow and using educational technology effectively. Becoming an instructional technology resource teacher/technology coach would allow me to explore both of these passions on a daily basis. I could assist teachers in implementing technology in meaningful ways and lead lessons in technology with students. I believe because of my dual passions I would be an excellent fit and aspire to attain this position within the next few years.