7th Grade Science and Math Teacher
LaMuth Middle School/Riverside Local Schools
1. Name the key responsibilities in your current role
I have the privilege of teaching in a district that values innovation, shared leadership and autonomy. Our middle school has 6th and 7th grades. We have 2 full teams per grade with 4 core teachers and 1 split team with 2.5 teachers. I teach on the 7th grade split team. Our team collaborates daily to build positive experiences for our students. I meet once a week with my grade and subject PLC's. I am a proud long term member of our building leadership team, district leadership team and several committees charged with enhancing the lives of our students and staff in the district.
2. Describe either your professional preparation, experience or achievements
Education was not my first career. I was in marketing then was lucky to be able to raise my children full time. The first day I substituted at the middle school, I knew I was hooked. There was a warm sense of belonging and a strong sense of purpose. I went back to college to earn a 4-9 teaching license and soon after a masters in curriculum and technology. My action research thesis was the creation of a social and emotional advisory program that has become a life changing adventure. My co author, Erin Tobul and I received a component award for the program and I received a regional award for my work from the Ohio Middle Level Association. I am very proud that Creating Connections was published this past fall. We have presented sessions, webinars, keynotes and workshops for schools and educational organizations for 7 years and love working with middle school educators. Currently, I am a PhD candidate completing a dissertation on the relationship between the middle school concept tenets and students perception of school climate.
3. Describe the biggest challenge you're currently facing in middle level education
Over the past 5 years, education has changed in several ways. New curriculum standards, testing, evaluation systems and technology have brought new challenges. However, in my opinion, the increase in debilitating student anxiety and symptomatic disengagement is the biggest challenge. Many students are distracted by a multiplicity of factors. Young adolescents are going through intense social, physical, and cognitive development while being overwhelmed by digital information, family issues, hunger, health concerns, poverty and many other factors. It is necessary and also challenging to support the basic needs of our students and help them all achieve academically. I am seeing an epidemic of teacher burnout as one of the effects of meeting the growing needs of middle level students. Both students and staff need a more positive climate that starts with efforts to make connections. Professional development in social and emotional learning techniques and parent engagement is needed for all who work with young adolescents. The ability to work together to build efficacy can be enhanced and systematic change can begin.
4. Share what you do for fun when not in school
The greatest joy in my life is to see those I love and care for living a happy life. Going on adventures together or just hanging out is what I enjoy. I'm a sports fan and a concert goer too. Travel is especially fun for me but the destination is not as important as the company. I will drive to NYC/NJ after school on a Friday just to visit my family and friends, including my daughter. My favorite place to be is at the jersey shore with friends and family. The beach and the music is the backdrop for quality time together. I am often the social planner and spend lots of time with colleagues in and out of school. I think it's important to stay connected.
5. Tell us why you are a member of AMLE
I love to learn, inspire and connect which is what AMLE offers. This is where educators of young adolescents can feel a sense of belonging while sharing and learning with others. My practice and my life have been enhanced by this rather large association that always makes me feel at home. This is where the middle school experts are and where they share their knowledge. I am so proud to be a member because I believe in the middle school philosophy. If you want to grow as a middle school educator get involved in AMLE. Hope to connect with you at the next AMLE event!