Title/Position: Reading Specialist
School or Career: Spruce Elementary School, North Tonawanda
Grade Level(s) Taught: Kindergarten-6
What is your favorite teaching moment?
Motivating students to WANT to read is half the battle in helping students with difficulties in reading. Often, students do not read for pleasure or spend any time reading outside of school. Often I make character voices and accents, pose questions to make kids laugh and think. I dress in character costumes and try to make reading interesting and fun…in spite of recent NYS requirements. I find it extremely rewarding and my best moments in teaching when students lose track of time, get sucked into the book and genuinely hunger for more. It is a special moment when reading has touched their lives and has become a positive part of them. Not only will those students enjoy reading for that day, but hopefully for a lifetime.
Why did you become a teacher?
I have always known that I have wanted to be a teacher. I had a close teacher and friend, Mr. Richard Meyer, who mentored me since I was in 5th grade. I helped him set up our parochial school library, tutored my peers, assisted my over-worked school principal with simple office duties, and even taught Sunday School while I was in high school. I have always felt that I was “called” into the profession and have dedicated my life to literacy issues with my students. I want my students to know that I also care about them as if they are my own children to build hope and confidence in themselves. I hope Mr. Meyer would be proud of the teacher I have become.
What is your role with the NFRC?
My first teaching position, in 1986, was teaching third grade at the American School of Rio de Janeiro. While I was in South America, I assisted missions in Sao Paulo in teaching reading skills and bringing Bibles to remote Brazilian churches with Lutheran Bible Translators. I then became a reading teacher of English in the Literacy Center at the American School of Rio de Janeiro working students having many different nationalities and languages. I was always fascinated with other languages, literacies and cultures. I came back to Buffalo State College to work on my master’s degrees in Elementary Education and then as a Reading Specialist in Elementary Education. I developed my craft in writing as I worked with professors at Buffalo State College to research writing techniques in literacy. I worked my way through college teaching a combined 3rd & 4th grade classroom at St. Paul Lutheran School in North Tonawanda. Next, I became a Reading Specialist for the Buffalo School District working with students with multi-linguistic backgrounds. Finally in 1993, I came to North Tonawanda Schools where I have been working as a Reading Specialist, at the elementary level specializing in early literacy and writing.
Why do you enjoy being a member of the NFRC?
I have been a part of the NFRC since the early 1990’s. I often read journals from the New York State Literacy Association and enjoy the International Reading Association’s forums as well. From the start, I have been involved with the NFRC book club. I enjoy meeting with those who have a passion for their work in literacy and share what works for them in their own classrooms. I always come back to my classroom bringing something fresh and new.
Tell us some fun facts about yourself.
My husband Joe and I are “bird nerds.” I take photos of birds especially during migration season while my husband identifies migrating species. I have a collection of song bird photos in my house making it look like a nature art gallery. I was once a member of the Little Theater of Rio de Janeiro where I studied acting and vocal singing and later joined the British Club where I hung out with people who spoke English. I have been the Youth Director at my church since 1986, I play guitar, sing, and once filled in for a rock band. I have a multi-handicapped daughter and now spend a great deal of time with her care. My son Nick is a senior at Buffalo State in the Criminal Justice Program. He is already looking for a job in law enforcement. I look forward to the day where I can continue to travel throughout the world.
How many years have you been an NFRC Member?
Since the early 1990s, almost 15 years!