by Samantha Ubertini and Michelle Psaltakis, staff reporters
- What inspired you to become a teacher?
Ever since the 4th grade, I loved history and ever since I started taking it in college I loved economics. When I graduated I thought I’d go to law school, but then when I saw what being a lawyer would be like I realized that being a lawyer wasn’t for me. I was told “do what you love” so I took the teaching fellows program and became a teacher.
- Why did you choose to teach this subject?
I think an understanding of history enriches someones understanding of the world around them, [enabling them to] see the mechanics behind things. When you study history you’re studying math, science, english, music, ect.
For economics I saw that it was a lot of decisions are made with economics in mind even when people don’t realize that economics are involved. Economics allow people to think more logically about the world and realize what happens in the world and why.
- How many years have you been a teacher?
I’ve been a teacher for 11 years, my first job was at Franklin K Lane High School on Jamaica Avenue, you’re stereotypical large high school with many different students, it was very difficult to work with but I loved it.
- What teacher had impacted your life when you were in school?
I had a 7th and 8th grade english and Social Studies teacher Mr. Quinn, he was amazing. He really made history come alive for us, he was funny, alive, and brilliant. Everything he did drew students into his class and lessons, he disciplined but never yelled at his students and was always patient and kind to us. There are many other teachers that I admired but him especially. With my AP english literature teacher, I wasn’t pushed to do college writing and he really pushed me up until his class.
- What makes you different from all the other teachers?
I think every teacher has their own unique style and their own strengths. Mine are knowledge of my content area, my organizational skills, and I think I’m good at setting up my classroom environment so my students feel like they’re there for a reason. They don’t think I’m wasting their time and I’m giving them an enjoyable working experience. I want them to feel like they have a purpose in my class so they feel the need to learn. Also I feel like my sense of humor separates me from some of the other teachers.
- What sacrifices have you made since being a teacher?
When I first became a teacher I worked full time, did graduate school full time, and at that point I had moved on my own so there were a lot of nights where I had to stay home to do papers, readings, grade papers and I had to stay in instead of going out with friends. I gave up a lot of weekends and nights to finish up my education obligations and teaching obligations. I am very grateful that I sacrificed that time and now that it was over I feel like there isn’t anything hanging over my head since I got it out of the way. Balancing your professional life, academic life, and social life can be a challenge to give everything the attention it needs.
- Has being a teacher changed who you are? For better or worse?
It’s changed me for the better it’s definitely made me into a better person. It’s made me appreciate life so much more, I walk into a room with 34 individuals, its literally 34 paths and potential that are in the process of becoming something. I find that I am lucky enough that I’m able to get a glimpse of the men and women my students are going to become and to me it’s constantly refreshing to me as a person.
I have no problem getting up in the morning and talking to people in other professions, I’ve never been miserable with my jobs like others say they are in their professions. Working with young people refreshes your perspective and gives you hope for the future.
- What do you believe the ups and downs of being a teacher are?
Ups are when a student gets something and understands something, even if you didnt do it directly. It’s refreshing to see that happen for the student. You feel good for the student and it’s great to see them get somewhere.
The other side of it is when you see a student go down the wrong path and they don’t want to listen. Then you try to warn them that it probably isn’t the best thing to do. Sometimes it’s part of being a teenager but it breaks your heart to see students fall down the wrong path.
- Have your students impacted you as a teacher?
I think that students constantly teach me things about the world and about myself. By taking something really basic, I try to look at the television shows or listen to your music and keep up with modern culture. I’ve been able to keep in touch with society as it evolves, my students have been able to keep me up to date with modern society.
To see the jump from 2004 senior class to the 2015 senior class I can see how students evolve and grow and see what they’re concerned about then compared to now. I’m able to be constantly refreshed with new ideas and concepts by each student because each day is completely different, even class is completely different. It’s incredibly exciting and refreshing as a teacher.
10. Do you have any secret talents? If so, what are they?
Sadly no, I watch a love of movies but thats not really a talent. Some people say I’m pretty good with accents and I have an uncanny ability to remember movies and television. There are movies I’ve seen and liked and only saw it once and I’m able to recite lines from it.