What do you do to engage your students? What makes your classroom unique?
I try to make connections with my students and develop positive relationships. I attempt to create a safe and comfortable learning environment for my students. The classroom is colorful and inviting. As a history teacher, I am a storyteller and I try to make the story as relevant and exciting to students as possible. Who doesn’t like a great story?
Why do you think it's important to teach the way you do?
If students feel that they are valued they tend to question and explore more openly, which makes learning possible. By teaching with enthusiasm, students can feed off that enthusiasm.
What do you feel is the most exciting thing about teaching?
I love watching students develop an appreciation for history. I truly enjoy making positive connections with students. I love when past students contact me and let me know what they are up to. I can only hope that I have made some sort of positive impact in their lives.
What singular lesson plan, activity, assignment or experiment do you return to year after year because of its "spark" factor with you and/or your students?
Hmm… I would say that one of my favorite topics to teach is World War II, I think, because I have such a personal connection to it. My grandfather was a World War II veteran who fought in Europe. He collected a multitude of artifacts. Each year I have a day where I bring in these artifacts to share. Over the years this day has grown to include not just artifacts from my collection but from other staff members' artifact collections as well. We bring the museum to the students. They are able to interact with with history at a totally different level than any textbook or website could provide them. I usually have to push them out the door and onto their next class that day.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
I was born and raised in the Olympic Village of Lake Placid, NY. I graduated from Lake Placid High School. I attended St. Lawrence University where I began studying to be a Marine Biologist...and 4 years later I received a B.A. Degree in History/Education. My Master's Degree is from Plattsburgh State University. I have been teaching for 19 years -- WOW -- that doesn’t seem possible! I have been teaching here at GFMS for 18 of those years! In addition to teaching here I also coach the Girls’ Modified Soccer team and I am the Student Government advisor. I am also a member of the Board Directors of Ulysses S. Grant’s Cottage on Mt. McGregor in Wilton, NY. With my spare time, I can be found walking my two golden retrievers, Rosie and Hawkeye, or we can be seen cruising in my sunshine yellow Beetle Bug.