1. You majored in political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill but then got a Master of Arts in early childhood special education at the George Washington University. What caused you to change areas?
It’s actually my minor, art history, that put me on the path toward education. While I enjoyed my political science coursework, I quickly realized that my initial plan of becoming an attorney wasn’t appealing. Through my art history coursework, I interned in the education department of two museums, which sparked my interest in teaching children.
2. One of the teaching philosophies you believe in is the Shine Theory. What is it and how do you see it at Graded?
Academics and social-emotional growth often take center stage in discussing student growth and achievement. These aspects of child development are important to consider, but I also believe that all children should have something in which they shine. In past years, I’ve worked with severely dyslexic students who struggled to write. I taught them how to type instead. That became their way of shining. I’ve also integrated the arts into my classroom as another way of allowing students to shine. I see a clear link to this idea through the fourth grade’s Maracujá project, where our students pursue a personal interest and immerse themselves in several weeks of independent study culminating in a performance.
3. Growing up, what was your favorite subject in school?
Social studies! I really enjoy learning about the past and understanding the individuals who shaped their cultures into the world we live in today. I’m still a big fan of history and most of my reading outside of school is narrative nonfiction. It’s probably no surprise that I love teaching our informational reading units in fourth grade!
4. What spells adventure for you?
Adventure is an upcoming trip to a new place that is going to push me outside my comfort zone. I’m really looking forward to a trip to Bolivia this November. It’s a place I probably would not get the chance to visit if it weren’t for this experience of living in South America. I’m excited to spend several days totally off the grid at the salt flats.
5. What bad habit have you broken?
I’ve learned to be a morning person. That was not my default setting, especially coming out of college, but now I love waking up early and knocking out my to-do list early in the morning before anyone else is up.
6. You minored in art history in North Carolina. What is your favorite art museum in São Paulo?
The museums are great in the city, but since moving here, I’ve become a big fan of its street art - every wall is a museum. Eduardo Kobra is my favorite street artist. I love his kaleidoscopic murals. He recently installed a mural in the park a few blocks from my apartment and I had a big fangirl moment when I saw him painting one afternoon!
7. What is one thing you teach in the Optimal Learning Services that you think all Graded students would benefit from?
I think all students would benefit from explicit instruction in self-monitoring, self-regulation, and self-advocacy skills. As adults, we often take these skills for granted. We need to make our routines visible for students and provide them with feedback so they can learn those skills. It’s really important for students to recognize when they don’t understand their teachers’ instructions and powerful when they can explain what they need to be successful.
8. Do you have a collection? If so, what do you collect and why?
I like to collect textiles while I’m traveling. For practical reasons, it’s easy to transport textiles, but they also become items I use every day so I’m always reminded of different trips. My most recent additions are hand-painted napkins from South Africa and tea towels from England.
9. What movie always makes you laugh? Which one always makes you cry?
The movies that make me laugh are the ones that I come back to again and again. I could probably do a one-woman show reciting Legally Blonde, for example. I honestly can’t remember the last time I cried during a movie - maybe that’s what I tend to avoid!
10. What is your favorite thing about Graded?
The people! My co-workers are incredibly dedicated people who go above and beyond to make sure they are meeting the needs of their students. The families are welcoming and collaborative. And of course, our students are amazing and inquisitive and are ultimately why I do this job.