State and City of Residence:
6th – 8th Grade Teacher
Why do you work in education?
Why do I teach? The challenge and complexity of teaching is intriguing, inspiring, and enriching. I have thrived from thirty years of creating lessons that challenge and engage both my students and me. I value the love of being a life-long learner and strive to make that love for learning a goal of all my students (over 4700 of them). Empowering (not enabling) students the ability to generate “Ah ha!” moments is what excites me. Training other teachers, creating curriculum, and networking are also “best parts” of teaching. . .and my own learning. That’s why I teach.
Tell us about something that you have done in education that you feel has made or will make a big difference for your community?
Before Marzano and Danielson were prevalent parts of teacher evaluation, I served on a state committee representing teacher voice as part of the process to revise the Florida Educators’ Accomplished Practices (FEAPS). These are “Florida's core standards for effective educators and provide valuable guidance to Florida's public school educators and educator preparation programs throughout the state on what educators are expected to know and be able to do.” My name is even on the bill that was passed in the state legislature. The change evolved into competencies and expertise needed to become an effective teacher that could benefit teaching programs in the universities and colleges.
What’s your favorite part about being an America Achieves Fellow?
How do I count the ways? The lifetime friendships established, the exposure and inclusion in Education Nation (at its inception and beyond), the training sessions from national experts covering all areas of education (like David Coleman, SAP, Core Advocates, and Achieve) and policy making sessions, the exchange of views representing teacher voice, the visitations to Gracie Mansion and speaking with Mayor Bloomberg, the visitation to the Lorraine Motel and standing in THAT spot, the visitation to the plantation as seen through the eyes of the enslaved children, the opportunities to interview principals and teachers for the fellowship, and mostly the re-energizing value of the yearly meetings with my colleagues and founders - all of whom share the same passion and commitment to educational reform for the right reasons . . .i.e. our children.
If you could change just one thing about our current education system, what would it be?
I would change the overabundance of testing. Not all teachers realize we should not teach to the test; if we are using rigorous standards, strong curriculum, and authenticity, then students will be successful.
If a song played every time you walked into a room, what would that song be?
Too many to mention. I do have an association with "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. An 8th grader played the song for me, ever so long ago. I loved it. He downloaded it for me. I played it as my transitioning 6th graders walked in. The next day I got a note from the younger student's mother. Moment of truth: She thanked me for playing the song; it was a favorite of hers that gave her the opportunity to bond with her daughter. And, another student dedicated it to me as my birthday song, singing it on stage to me in an assembly.
What’s the best thing a student ever said to you?
One recent one: Two former students were talking, saw me, and came over. One student asked me a question about poetry, which I then answered. Hands on hips, she turned to the other student and said, "See what I mean? That's what real teaching is. Taking the time to explain and show you in a way to make you understand."
What’s your dream vacation?
To Paris, France, with front row seats to watch Rafa Nadal win his 10th French Open at Roland Garros.
What is one fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
I used to be a sports writer.
What is your other favorite thing to do (besides education, or course!)?
I love to swim and create art.
What is your biggest inspiration?
Both my parents (long deceased) played pivotal roles in my life for what they instilled in me. They inspire me daily.