WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight is on Robt Seda-Schreiber

 Write on Fight on’s Teacher Spotlight features awesome educators who are dedicated to teaching and inspiring young people everyday.

In this edition, WoFo features art teacher, artist and social activist Robt Seda-Schreiber.  I would like to thank Robt for his interview, his dedication to the teaching profession and his courage to promote social change.

“Don’t ever, ever make someone feel wrong or shamed for who they are or who they love…”


Besides being a teacher Robt Seda-Schreiber is….

A lover; a pacifist & fighter; an avowed solipsist; a hustler of culture; an A+ son, a B+ husband & a C+ father; a tiny dancer; an imaginary boxer; a “Champion of Equality” (thanks, NJEA!); a teller of both truth & foma in equal measure;  a misanthropic humanist; an artist of some quality; a storyteller of great verbosity; a Courageous Cat (kudos, Kenneth Cole!); a tilter of both windmills & pinball machines; 日本の職人; colorblind & tone-deaf; a reluctant genius & an enthusiastic fool; a man of great fortune & good morals (tho’ sometimes both lapse on occasion); a friend to the friendless & voice for the voiceless; & (wait for it!) a Social Justice Activist

Where do you currently teach, what do you teach and for how long?

I teach at the Melvin H. Kreps Middle School: in my art studio; at the theatre; in the hallways as well as the greater community. I teach Art & Theatre & have had the pleasure of doing so for almost twenty-five years now. I teach in the same school that I attended as a student & it is truly an honor & privilege to give back to this community that has given me so much.

What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?

 Gonna’ cheat here & speak rather on the greatest lesson I was taught:

Few years back, I met Vincent V., a student at a neighboring school district, who because of his otherness was being bullied to the extent that he had to be home-schooled. I became his advocate & his family’s partner in a protracted legal battle with his district, resulting in him attending our school at that district’s expense. Whilst at our school, Vincent flourished: finally able to realize who he is & who she has always been. A life saved; a life realized: Vincent becomes Vee, our school’s first transgender student & she allows me the honor of helping her with that transition. Vee’s journey of self-realization is a tremendous gift to & a great lesson for our entire school & our greater community & to me personally: a concrete example of the power of outreach, an abstract made very concrete. She taught me & all those around her on a daily basis the true meaning of bravery & compassion & for that, I can never thank her enough.

If, for one day, you were in charge of your school what would you do?

Well, truth be told, my administration does a pretty wonderful job indeed, esp. our Principal Lori Stein but if I could run this town (as Jay-Z would say), I would, in no particular order, ask the kids & the teachers (& any parents who wanted to join us) to do a lil’ somethin’-somethin’ like this:

Take a communal walk; Read a comic book; Give the custodial staff the day off & clean the hallways ourselves; Take everyone out for lunch (vegetarian style of course!); Dance; Share one photo that makes you smile; End the day in contemplation & appreciation of what has come before & what has yet to arrive

If you could write one quote on the board for your students what would it be?

Here I go cheating again & am doubling my quota of quotes:

“Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.”               -Lao Tzu, “Tao Te Ching”

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer & cold in the winter. It’s round & wet & crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies- God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” -Kurt Vonnegut

If you weren’t a teacher; what would you be?

A guy who would constantly be asked & then subsequently warned, “What are you doing in this classroom & if you don’t leave the premises immediately, we’re going to have to call the authorities!”

Original art by Robt Seda- Schreiber

What advice would you give to all new teachers?

Every moment counts, every word matters, both in & outside the classroom.

Please challenge yourselves as much as you challenge others.

Always try first to fight for something rather than fighting against something.

Remember to thrive & not just survive.

Don’t ever, ever make someone feel wrong or shamed for who they are or who they love; for the color of their skin or the texture of their hair; for the language they speak or the religion they practice (or indeed the lack thereof); for the gender with which they identify or name they choose to use; for the ideas they hold dear or the lives they choose to lead… & don’t ever, ever stand idly by & let anyone else do so.

Remember light will always dispel the darkness & love does indeed trump hate. The world can & will change—it’s entirely up to you whether you want to watch it happen or be the one who makes it happen. You cannot move forward without knowing where you are going & who you can bring with you; without seeing what is in front of you & what you can do to change it for the better. For all of us.

Eyes clear, hearts full, & minds free- boots on the ground.

Last but not least, as my man Chuck D would say, “Fight the Power. Fight the powers that be!”

If the best thing about teaching is the students; what’s the second best thing?

 The great pay, of course! (& by that, of course, I mean karmically, not financially…)

Who inspires you?

My wonderful folks showed me the path, my lovely bride holds my hand as I walk it, & my talented son shows me the horizon. My parents taught me love & respect for all, my wife helps me put it into practice, & my boy carries it upward & onward. I have always been inspired by those who speak out & allow others to rise up within their own communities. When one group overcomes injustice & inequality, it is a victory for us all. Whether it be MLK, Gandhi, Harvey Milk, Dolores Huerta, Muhammad Ali, Keith Haring, Kurt Vonnegut, or David Letterman, these men & women were true to themselves & true to their communities. They inspire all of us to be the best that we can be.

Finally, much respect & love to my administration, my colleagues, my students & the community at large in which I work. This oh-so-supportive crew have been nothing but encouraging throughout the years & I truly couldn’t do the do I do without them.

My classroom superpower is…

 The power of flight… of fancy.

Check out more of Robt’s artwork at his webpage Arty Goodness.

Lean more about Robt’s social activism and help him win the NEA Social Justice Activist of the Year Award!


Thanks for checking out this edition of Write on Fight on’s Teacher Spotlight Series!

Do you know an awesome educator who makes school an exciting adventure? If so, please consider nominating them to be featured on the Teacher Spotlight Series. Contact Jay at writeonfighton@gmail.com.

 

WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight is on Kyle McDonough

WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight features awesome educators who are dedicated to teaching and inspiring young people everyday.

In this edition, WoFo features Pre-K4 teacher, musician and soccer fanatic Kyle McDonough.  I would like to thank Kyle for his interview and for his dedication to the teaching profession.

” The students absolutely love him. Because of Mr. McDonough, my child wants to go to school six days a week. He’s so down to earth and has been really great, especially for a nutty first time parent.”


Besides being a teacher Kyle McDonough is…. 

 A husband, musician, friend, and a big soccer fan.

Where do you currently teach, what do you teach and for how long?

I currently teach at Nativity of our Lord school in Warminster, PA. I teach Pre-K 4. This is my first year here at Nativity.

What is your favorite lesson to teach and why? 

 My favorite lesson to teach is reading. The students I currently teach are 4 and 5 years old, so when they read a word for the first time or understand a new word, their excitement is infectious.

If, for one day, you were in charge of your school what would you do? 

I would begin the day with a school wide yoga session or controlled breathing exercise. I really find it to be a good way to block out the world around us and come together as a school community. It lets everyone have a fresh start to the day.

If you could write one quote on the board for your students what would it be?

“All people smile in the same language”

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

If I were not a teacher I would be a lawyer. In college, I always thought I would go right to law school after undergrad. However, after sometime in that industry I found out it was not for me.

What advice would you give to all new teachers?

 Be flexible! Everyday is different in school and the more malleable you are, the better each day will be.

If the best thing about teaching is the students, what’s the second best thing?

The school community. When you are in a building everyday with others who are passionate about education, it make everyone better at their jobs.

Who inspires you?

 My mom. My mother, Debra McDonough, has been a teacher for over 25 years and still has a deep passion for her students and teaching. Every student that passes through her class comes out a better person. And everyone lucky enough to be around her is a better person for knowing her. She is truly remarkable.

My classroom superpower is…

 My classroom superpower is calmness under fire. I always say to people that stress is a participatory activity and I choose not to participate. I do not let things in life stress me out, because no one is their best self when they are stressed.


Hey parents, does your child have a teacher who inspires them? Does your child look forward to school becasue of an awesome educator? If so, please consider nominating your child’s teacher to be featured on WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight Series. Contact Jay at writeonfighton@gmail.com

WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight is on Cory Arrighetta

WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight features awesome educators who are dedicated to teaching and inspiring young people everyday.

In this edition, WoFo features 4th grade teacher, coach and Mets fan Cory Arrighetta. I would like to thank Cory for his interview and dedication to the teaching profession.

You cannot make it in this profession unless you love it.


Besides being a teacher Cory Arrighetta is…

a husband, dad, coach, and passionate fan of the New York Mets.

Where do you currently teach, what do you teach and for how long?

I am currently a fourth grade teacher at Hilltop Elementary which is part of the Chichester School District. This is my fourth year at Hilltop and my 13thyear overall. I have also taught second, third and fifth grade as well.

What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?

Some of my favorite lessons deal with Growth Mind Set. When kids are motivated there is no stopping them. Creating and teaching lessons that give them a goal and path to get there is rewarding for not only my students, but for me as well. I also love teaching math. It is so exciting watching your students use and apply the strategies and see their attitude go from I will never get this to I can teach this!

If, for one day, you were in charge of your school what would you do?

I would go into every room and see the talents of my colleagues. I hear so many wonderful things about the people I work with that I would love to see. Kids will always let you know what their teacher did last year, especially when they liked it, so I think it would be a great opportunity to witness it myself.

If you could write one quote on the board for your students what would it be?

Some of the quotes I have written on my board are:

  • “The person who says they can and says they can’t are both usually right.”
  • “Failure is the first step to success.”
  • “There are 86,400 seconds in a day. It is up to you to decide how to use them.”

My students really think about these quotes and I think it makes a difference in how they approach their day.

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

I honestly can’t imagine doing anything but teaching. It has been something I have wanted to do since I was in the 5th grade. My teacher, Mr. Reynolds, was the best and I knew this profession was for me! Some of the things I do and say in my classroom are things I remember him saying to me when I was in my class.

What advice would you give to all new teachers?

You have to love it. I am so fortunate I wake up every morning loving what I do. I can overlook the stress and demands of being a teacher because I truly enjoy it. You cannot make it in this profession unless you love it.

If the best thing about teaching is the students, what’s the second best thing?

It is hard to think of something about teaching that is not about the kids. I have been fortunate to work with great people. People who share the same passion about education that I have. I perhaps the second best thing about teaching are the friendships I have made with the people I have worked with.

Who inspires you?

Although I have a nine month daughter who has stolen my heart, my inspiration is my son, Cory. The fact he looks up to me inspires me in so many ways. When we have, “Bring Your Child to Work Day” Cory is so proud to come to my class and spend the day with my students. Once he even suggested that he too be referred to as, “Mr. Arrighetta.” He lights up when someone says to him that they think his dad is a great teacher. Seeing that inspires me to be the best teacher I can be; I feel like I have to keep him proud of me! After every goal he has scored in soccer or play he has made in baseball, the first thing he does is look at me. Anytime he has been recognized for one of his accomplishments, Cory allows me to share his moment with him. He is truly a kind and good person and although he is seven he inspires me to be a better person.

My classroom superpower is…

I asked my students what they thought my superpower was and their responses were interesting. The one I would say is the most accurate with how I see myself is a motivator. My students have admitted that my style excites them, energizes them, and pumps them up. They know my enthusiasm is genuine and that I am truly invested in their learning. I will never forget one of my students writing assignments; the classic topic, “What would you do if you had a million dollars?” My student said they would send me to Hawaii because, “Mr. Arrighetta works his tail off!”


Hey parents, does your child have a teacher who inspires them? Does your child look forward to school becasue of an awesome educator? If so, please consider nominating your child’s teacher to be featured on WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight Series. Contact me at writeonfighton@gmail.com


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WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight is on Lauren Boyle Plaxa

WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight features awesome educators who are dedicated to teaching and inspiring young people everyday.

In this edition, WoFo features 9th grade history teacher, writer and joke teller Lauren Boyle Plaxa. I would like to thank Lauren for her interview and for her dedication to the teaching profession.

…if you love what you’re doing and you can’t help but talk about it at parties, you inspire me.


 Besides being a teacher Lauren Boyle Plaxa is…      

A politics junkie, an amateur writer, and wife to a musician.

~

Where do you currently teach, what do you teach and for how long?

I teach one section of World Cultures to ninth graders at Freire Charter School in Center City Philly. For the last two years, I’ve taught a social studies as needed, depending on our enrollment. I was an English teacher at another school before that. I’m a college counselor and academic adviser as well.
 ~

What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?

Any time I can, I try to infuse current events into our work, because I want students to be engaged in the present world, not just in the past. This year, my favorite lesson was on Brexit. As a warm-up, my ninth graders students planned their “exit” from the rest of our school, and in doing so, they echoed so many of the benefits and challenges that Britain is currently navigating.
~

If, for one day, you were in charge of your school what would you do?

With any luck, I’d take us to New York City, after begging Lin-Manuel Miranda to donate tickets for a Hamilton matinee. I’ve played clips for my kids in the past, and judging by how much they loved the short clips, I think seeing it live would be amazing for them. So, Lin-Manuel, if you’re reading, call me!
~

If you could write one quote on the board for your students what would it be?

 This one’s on my wall in my office: “Good things come to those who hustle.”

~

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be? 

I’d want to be a lawyer who focuses on education policy.

 What advice would you give to all new teachers? 

Ask for help. Work hard, but don’t beat yourself up. And get some sleep!

 ~

If the best thing about teaching is the students, what’s the second best thing?

My colleagues are not only some of the smartest people I know, but they’re also great friends. I laugh a lot every single day.
~

Who inspires you?

 Anybody who is doing what they love to do and working to be the best at it. You know these people – if you talk to them about a project, their eyes light up and they nerd out in the best way. Art, athletics, science, literature, medicine, teaching – if you love what you’re doing and you can’t help but talk about it at parties, you inspire me.
~

My classroom superpower is… 

 .My corny sense of humor, because I can tell a joke poorly enough that you can’t help but laugh.

Do you know an awesome educator dedicated to inspiring and teaching others? If so, please consider nominating them to be featured on WoFo’s  Teacher Spotlight Series. You can send their contact information to writeonfighton@gmail.com

WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight is on Andrew Patterson

 WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight features awesome educators who are dedicated to teaching and inspiring young people everyday.

In this edition, WoFo features teacher and coach Andrew Patterson. I’ve had the honor and privilege to teach beside “The Big Man” for the past 11 years. I would like to thank Andrew for his interview, friendship, humor, honesty and his dedication to the teaching profession.

 I think being a pilot and being a teacher are very similar; they are hours of monotony and repetition punctuated with moments of sheer excitement and terror.


Besides being a teacher Andrew Patterson is . . .

I’m a football coach, an football offensive guru, a road-tripper, a boring uncle, a wanna-be inspirational tweeter, a country music lover, history junkie, an aviation enthusiast, and conspiracy theorist.

Where do you currently teach, what do you teach and for how long?

I currently teach in Robbinsville, New Jersey, at the aptly-named Robbinsville High School, where I have been for the past 13 years.  I previously taught at Pascack Valley Regional High School for 4 years. 

I teach students.  More specifically, I teach 10th grade students the subject of English.  That includes reading, writing, and analysis of both.  In the past I’ve also taught 9th and 12th grade students.  Indirectly, I teach how to take a joke, how to have a thick skin, how to be able to look in the mirror after making a tough decision, and how not to enter a room—but those are all outside of the curriculum.

I also do a little bit of teaching on the football field.  There, I specifically teach the techniques and schemes of a very simple game while also trying to teach the much more complex lessons of what a selfless teammate is.

What is you favorite lesson to teach and why? 

I love teaching the personal narrative/college essay, especially when I’m working one-on-one with students in helping them to create a unique tone and voice in their telling of a story.  It’s awesome to see a student’s story, a little slice of their life, unfold before you as it transforms from a minuscule idea in a brainstorm into a living and breathing entity of its own with its own personality. Once, I had a student deliberate for multiple class periods on just one or two words, making sure they were the “right ones” to convey a certain feeling.

I also like the lesson on a personal level, because of the insight it provides me as a professional; it’s a give-and-take series of lessons.  When reading drafts upon drafts of students’ personal stories—baby siblings’ births, loss of parents, family vacations, inner philosophies, the good and the bad—it helps me keep perspective that the person in the seat across from me is a real person, not a number or statistic.

If you were in charge of your school for a day what would you do and why? 

I’d spend the entire day greeting the buses, and walking the halls learning all the students’ names in the whole school by heart—even the quiet ones—and then I’d learn one thing about each student.  Not one thing like their address, but one real thing that they deal with on a daily basis.  That way, when I go back to not being in charge, every student would know that there’s at least one person who doesn’t think he or she is invisible.

If you could only write one quote of the board for your students what would it be?

“If you come into the game as the pinch-runner on third base, don’t act like you hit a triple. A little humility goes a very long way.

If you were not a teacher what would you be?

I’d like to think I’d be a full-time NCAA football coach, but in my eyes, that’s still part of the teaching profession.  Totally removed from education and coaching, I would have probably gone into aviation as a commercial pilot.  I think being a pilot and being a teacher are very similar; they are hours of monotony and repetition punctuated with moments of sheer excitement and terror.

What advice would you give to new teachers ?

Teenagers might not grasp symbolism on the first try, but they know when you actually care about them and when you’re just going through the motions and winging it.  One day will come in your career when you realize that students are not just your clients, but they’re your kids.  That’s when the job and all it entails becomes much easier and rewarding to do.  If that day never comes, and you always see your students merely as clients at your place of business, it may be time to find a new profession in a cubicle.

If the best thing about teaching is the students, what is the second best thing about teaching?

There’s a Miranda Lambert country song called “Famous in a Small Town”.  The song could very well have been written about Robbinsville. As silly as it sounds, having worked with kids, their siblings, families, and businesses as both a teacher for a decade and a half, and now the head football coach in the relatively small confines of Robbinsville, I can’t go anywhere in town without someone there knowing who I am at this point. It’s kind of cool, the loss of anonymity on a small scale.  Plus it’s rewarding when you drive past a former student or player and they give you the old honk and wave.

Who inspires who?

My mother was, and is, a significant influence and inspiration for me.  Not many of my students or colleagues know this story, but several years ago, she was diagnosed with and eventually passed away from an aggressive progression of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease (think Ice Bucket Challenge).  No offense to other disease-having people, but I am certain ALS is the worst disease anyone can ever have.  As she became increasingly ill, she still tried to be my mom even though I had moved into her house to provide daily care when she went on Hospice.

Mom was an elementary school teacher for over 35 years when she retired and she was one of the good ones; as a kid growing up, I never heard her say a negative word about any of her students–even the bad ones.  Taking care of her daily as she withered away to nothing, eventually even losing the ability to communicate with me,  was the toughest thing I’ve had to experience; I’d describe it as haunting almost.  Now, when I come across a difficult situation, I realize that if I could get through the experience with my mom, I can get through anything. There’s no such thing as “having a bad day” after that chapter of my life.

My classroom superpower is . . . 

I don’t really think I have a superpower.  Having a superpower would mean that I’m a superhero and superheroes are heroes for thousands if not millions of people.  I just try to be a hero for one student a day; sometimes it may be the same student for a few consecutive days if he or she has something going on.  Some days it takes humor to be that hero, some days it takes a saying “no” and being a little hard on him or her. Some days it’s a phone call, some days it’s just making eye contact knowing that we’re both on the same page.

Follow Andrew on Twitter… @R’VilleFootball


Do you know an awesome educator dedicated to inspiring and teaching others? If so, please consider nominating them to be featured on WoFo’s  Teacher Spotlight Series. You can send their contact information to writeonfighton@gmail.com.

WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight is on Jill Vaz

WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight features awesome educators who are dedicated to teaching and inspiring young people everyday.

In this edition, WoFo features first grade teacher, chocolate lover and one of my former students Jill Vaz. I would like to thank Jill for her interview and for her dedication to the teaching profession.

…when you forget where you are and what is going on in the world around you- it’s just you and your students lost in the moment of learning.


Besides being a teacher Jill Vaz is….

An avid runner, beach lover, chocolate eating, shopping and organization enthusiast!

Where do you currently teach, what do you teach and for how long?

It is my third year teaching first grade at Sharon School in Robbinsville, New Jersey and I absolutely love it! Recently, I have also taken on the role as one of our K-5 math coaches. I have found a new passion for writing math curriculum and working alongside colleagues to establish the best mathematical teaching practices in the classroom. Sharon School is not necessarily new to me. I am so fortunate to be working with all the teachers that made me fall in love with learning at my old elementary school!

What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?

Typically my favorite lessons are those that bring me by surprise and do not turn out as planned. Or even the lessons when you forget where you are and what is going on in the world around you- it’s just you and your students lost in the moment of learning.

Although if I had to choose a specific lesson that is my favorite, it would be the introduction to place value in math. It begins when my students are interested in asking about all my favorite things at the beginning of the year. I mention how zero is my favorite number. They’re usually surprised by my response and I assure them that eventually I will explain why. Every winter when it comes time to teach the place value unit, I ask if they are finally ready to find out why zero is my favorite number. I take out a special book to read,  Zero the Hero by Tom Litchenheld and Amy Krouse Rosenthal, which helps me to share the message to my students of the importance of zero. It’s not just a big old round nothing, it’s actually the coolest number in math! It saves the place for all the other numbers, allowing us to have numbers larger than 9. Then zero quickly becomes their hero and I have a class full of students intrigued by the wonders of math- my favorite!

If for one day you were in charge of your school what would you do?

If I were given the opportunity to be in charge of my school for a day, I would encourage everyone to slow down- myself included. I would encourage all to listen to their student’s conversations at snack time, ask what they did over the weekend, pay attention to who’s using the bathroom all the time during writer’s workshop, or eat lunch with colleagues in the faculty room instead of in front of the copier. It’s only natural that with the pressure of today’s high paced society and the recent high demands in education, we as teachers feel the need to teach as much as we can as fast as we can. I feel it would be nice if everyone slowed down and paid more attention to the little details.

If you could write one quote on the board for your students what would it be?

“Make someone’s day today.”  -Steven J. Mayer

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

If I weren’t a teacher I would, without question, be a meteorologist! If you know me personally, this may not come as a surprise. I am an avid watcher of the Weather Channel (for fun) and Al Roker is one of my biggest idols! I have always been intrigued by extreme weather and enjoy being able to tell the weather forecast to my family and friends. I’m lucky enough to be able to share this passion with my students during our Air and Weather science unit.

What advice would you give to all new teachers?

Unfortunately I can’t claim it as my own but a fellow veteran teacher once told me, your students won’t adapt to you, you need to adapt to your students. Your first year and every year, you will need to modify and adjust your classroom structure and routines to best fit the needs of your students. This might mean trying something three, four or even five times before it works!

If the best thing about teaching is the students, what’s the second best thing?

The second best thing is most definitely their families! I have been fortunate enough to have nothing but the most supportive families. They have done more than just donating supplies and their time in the classroom, they have opened up their families and invited me into their lives. In my three years of teaching I have attended soccer games, birthday parties, communions, pool parties and baseball games. I am blessed with their constant appreciation and without that, my job wouldn’t be possible!

Who inspires you?

This is a difficult question for me to answer and I think it’s because their are so many people that inspire me each and everyday. Growing up, I always admired my teachers. I distinctly remember I would go home and imitate them because I wanted to be just like them- so compassionate, happy and knowledgeable. That’s ultimately how I chose my profession. My cooperating teacher from student teaching, Mrs. Deb Smith, has had a huge impact on the teacher that I am- her positive attitude and love of learning is infectious. I continue to look up to my mom and my sister, two dominate and fearless female role models, and my dad reminds me how to be patient, gentle, honest and kind. All of which are crucial when working with six and seven year olds.

My classroom superpower is…

My classroom superpower is color because I love to bring everything to life, whether it be in my lesson, my activities, my materials or my classroom design. Vibrant colors create a positive and inviting environment, which cultivates an enthusiastic and engaged community of learners. I want to color the lives of my students and I hope that this is how they remember me as their teacher.

Connect with Jill…

Blog: thefirstgrademade.blogspot.com

Instagram: @firstgrade_made

Twitter: @missjillianvaz


Do you know an awesome educator dedicated to inspiring and teaching others? If so, please consider nominating them to be featured on WoFo’s  Teacher Spotlight Series. You can send their contact information to writeonfighton@gmail.com.

WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight is on Kellye Statz

WoFo’s Teacher Spotlight features awesome educators who are dedicated to teaching and inspiring young people everyday.

In this edition, WoFo features English teacher, coach and one of my former students Kellye Statz. I would like to thank Kellye for her interview and for her dedication to the teaching profession.

Students are highly intuitive and if you’re not feeling confident and energized, they’ll feed off that.


Besides being a teacher Kellye Statz is….

an assistant field hockey and girls lacrosse coach, an occasional tutor and curriculum writer, a passionate Harry Potter fan, and a proud, new homeowner.

Where do you currently teach, what do you teach and for how long?

I currently am in my third year of teaching English at Montgomery High School in Skillman, NJ. This year, I teach college prep 11th grade and AP Language and Composition, but I have taught all grades throughout my tenure.

What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?

My favorite lesson to teach is any lesson in which I notice that students are “getting” it and I can tell that they are invested in what they are learning. For example, I just did a lesson with my students about fake news and digital literacy and it was great to see them engage in passionate discussion about matters that directly affect them. One of my other favorite lessons is anytime I get to “discover” a plot twist or surprise ending or a great pun in a story with my students (an example is in the play, The Crucible, when John Proctor forgets that “thou shalt not commit adultery” is one of the ten commandments and his wife needs to help him remember…ahhhh!).

If for one day you where in charge of your school what would you do?

If I was in charge for one day, I would let teachers co-teach with colleagues from other departments to complete large multidisciplinary projects with the students. I would want to spend time speaking with more teachers outside of my department so that we could talk about potential issues or things that we notice with students. I would then schedule a school-wide floor hockey tournament and a mid-day mandatory nap break.

If you could write one quote on the board for your students what would it be?

“Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space” or “keep it classy, not sassy”

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

If I wasn’t a teacher, I would be a part-time gardener or an astronaut. I would also become Ted Allen’s co-host on “Chopped” (I have been working on my cloche-lifting skills).

What advice would you give to all new teachers?

I am still a new teacher myself. Some of the things that I need to remind myself is that as arduous and straining teaching can be, it is still one of the most beautiful professions and that I have a passion for it; I have to consistently remind myself that my students are future voters and citizens and engineers and poets and the potential impact I have in their lives is a huge gift.
Additionally, I would tell a new teacher that it is okay to have fear and uncertainty. The doubts you have on day one eventually turn into strengths and get replaced by new doubts and uncertainties, which ultimately molds you into an amazing educator.
Also, some of the best advice I have ever gotten is “you can’t win an argument with a teenager” and it is true (which is why having good rubrics and a positive attitude will take you far). Finally, I would say that new teachers (and also veterans) need to make time for themselves. Students are highly intuitive and if you’re not feeling confident and energized, they’ll feed off that.
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If the best thing about teaching is the students, what’s the second best thing?
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The second-best thing about being a teacher is the relationship that you form with colleagues. They are the ones who listen to you and give you advice. The friendships I have gained in my profession are invaluable. Good colleagues inevitably lead to strong teaching because this is not a career in which you can thrive in solitude. Another great perk is that I get to embrace my inner (and outer) nerd everyday. It is fun when your quirks impact your students in some way; there is no better feeling when a student tells you about a book he or she read…for fun!

Who inspires you?

My students and my family inspire me. They push me and challenge me. The beautiful diversity of my students inspires me and makes me work harder. I love to teach because I learn from my students everyday. The constant support of my family makes the long days even more worthwhile. Also, my former teachers inspire me. My good and bad memories as a student serve as a reminder of why I teach.

My classroom superpower is…

being able to hear and see all things that go on in the classroom (even when I am across the room). The concept of having “eyes in the back of my head” seemed silly to me until I became a teacher, but now I realize that I have a real gift. It is a great feeling when you can tell Student A to stop kicking Student B’s backpack while helping Student C with his thesis statement. I would say that a close second superpower is how amazing my handwriting looks when I write with a black, chisel-tip Expo marker on a clean whiteboard.


Do you know an awesome educator dedicated to inspiring and teaching others? If so, please consider nominating them to be featured on WoFo’s  Teacher Spotlight Series. You can send their contact information to writeonfighton@gmail.com.