I was led to Wakefield by my desire of wanting something different. The bulk of my teaching career took place in public education, but when I had my daughter and began exploring the benefits of a classical education, I knew I needed to make a change. These past six years, I have seen my daughter blossom into a voracious reader. She questions the world around her and becomes more confident with each passing day. She adores her school, and it fills my heart to see her walk off ahead of me, on her way to class. I trust that she is learning to think strategically, problem solve, nurture an appreciation of the arts, and perhaps most importantly, build character. I am privileged that I, too, can be a small part of this institution.
I began my love of education at a very young age, maybe nine or ten. My students were my dolls and stuffed animals, sitting at attention, lined up on my bed. On sunny days, we would have been easily spotted on the porch, having an outdoor lesson. My heroes were my teachers, and I aimed to be like them when I grew up. Fast forward many years, and I was soaking up my graduate classes, naïve enough to think these would fully prepare me for my first real teaching job. I never underestimated the power of a good teacher or the damage a poor teacher would inflict, but honestly, I was not fully prepared. I can still recall my first class of third graders, all 28 of them. Several did not speak English, a handful could not read, and then there were the few who would read anything I would give them. What was I doing? I still can remember feeling so overwhelmed and that my college coursework was not enough. There were many nights filled with tears and questions of what had I done and was teaching even for me. I am sure many new teachers feel this way.
When I reflect on the last 17 years, it is the experiences in the classroom that helped me grow and define me as a teacher. In particular, teaching early reading acquisition skills became a passion. I want you to think for a moment. Think of the last amazing book you read. You know the kind I am talking about. The kind of book you begin reading on a Saturday morning, and discovering it’s getting dark out, you need to turn on a light; the kind of book in which you are snuggled under your blankets knowing you will be mad at yourself when the alarm goes off in the morning, but you just cannot stop reading. Reading is not simply entertainment, although that is certainly a positive. Reading helps us learn about our world, explore different time periods, different points of view etc. Einstein goes so far as to say,
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
After years of classroom teaching, I am privileged to be a learning specialist. One of my many roles at WCDS, and perhaps my favorite, is helping young learners make the leap to becoming successful readers. Each day, I work with students and teachers all across the lower school. I want students to have the opportunity to grow up with good books. I want them to love reading so much that they may from time to time take a flashlight to bed and read under the covers. A crucial part of a classical education is immersing young students in great literature, and I am lucky that I can play a small part in making that happen.