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By: Staff Blogger
Viewing back-to-school commercials certainly conjures up a lot of emotions in teachers. We always feel like summer slipped through our fingers so quickly. If we worked or attended professional development in the summer, we wonder if we should have rested more. Summer certainly should be a time for teachers to regroup, reevaluate, pursue hobbies and rejuvenate for another year in the classroom. After all, our journeys as teachers can be emotional, frustrating, bumpy and difficult, but we persevere because we are TEACHERS.
Whether you have just begun your first year or your 31st year in the classroom, I hope you always remember how important a teacher’s role is in our society. Being a teacher requires stamina, intelligence, collaboration, creativity, patience, hope and a proclivity to nurture the intellectual and social-emotional growth of our students. Teachers know and understand that there is great power when our students find and express their identities and use their collective voices to create change.
For many of our students, we are called to be more than just teachers. We must be advocates, superheroes, champions or beacons of light filtering through the storm on a rainy day. As the years pass, you may not remember every student’s name, but they will always remember you. Your words and actions do matter to your students. You matter. We could never fathom how far our influence on a student may reach. We could never fathom how one statement, one compliment or one word of advice could ultimately alter the course of their lives.
For the first time in my 24-year career as a history teacher in Toledo Public Schools, I am not with my beloved students in my classroom nor am I with my close colleagues and friends on a daily basis. I already miss them. This school year, I am embarking on a journey as the first teacher fellow at the Ohio Department of Education. I am excited and extremely thankful for this opportunity, but my students will always be first in my heart and mind. I will set forth on this teacher fellow journey determined to be an advocate for teachers and students — not just in my classroom and district but throughout the state.
I truly believe teachers are one of the greatest assets and gifts in American society today. We have the passion and ability to shape the hearts and minds of our students. This responsibility is unique to teaching and is unmatched in any other profession on earth. I hope you were able reflect on this fact over the summer and keep it at the front of your mind this school year — even during challenging days. I wish you all a peaceful and fruitful beginning to your school year.
Mona Al-Hayani was named the 2019 Ohio Teacher of the Year and is taking a year sabbatical from teaching history at Toledo Early College High School to work with the Department as the first OhioTeacher Fellow. You can contact Mona at Mona.Al-Hayani@education.ohio.gov.
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By: Jonathan Juravich
One year ago, a proposal was on the table to transform the Ohio Teacher of the Year program from a one-year experience to a two-year commitment. The first year would be one of recognition and learning, followed by a year of service to the state as the Ohio teacher-in-residence. I was hesitant. What would life outside of my classroom look like? Would I be bored, spinning around in a chair all day? Was I even capable of living up to everyone’s expectations? Twelve months later, I am wrapping up my time piloting this program and dizzied from a year of growth and inspiration.
I was having lunch with a group of teachers this spring, and one of them asked me what I actually do in this role. I answered saying, “I focus on teacher voice, teacher leadership and teacher recognition.” She then said that this was all well and good but wanted to know more details. What was it that I was actually doing?
During this past year, I have toured the state, meeting with teachers, administrators and students while learning about their schools, aspirations and communities. Sometimes I offered professional development for teachers, spoke at conferences, led whole-school student assemblies or provided hot chocolate to teachers at staff meetings. Then, I brought all of these experiences and the information I learned from my visits back to the Department to help provide Department staff with insight from the field and context for decision-making.
In April, I testified to the Primary and Secondary Education Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives. One of the members of this committee asked me to reflect on what it is that I heard from teachers when I visited schools. I noted how inspired I was by Ohio’s educators, their professionalism and their heart. These teachers spoke of their admiration for their students and the strength of their colleagues down the hall that, in their words, I “just had to stop in and see before leaving.”
This year, I was motivated by great teachers like the enthusiastic Chris Basich in Riverside Local Schools; by the heart of third grade teacher Devery Scott from Whitehall City Schools; Chris Williams and the remarkable staff at Colerain Elementary School in Columbus; the thought-provoking conversations with Cheshire Elementary’s Mikela Thomas; and the creativity of Terry Stewart at the Ohio School for the Deaf. Meeting these teachers and countless more, hearing their stories, their hopes for their students and the triumphs they had just recently witnessed have changed who I am as an educator.
In one of my first meetings at the Department, I was told there was interest in an additional teacher recognition program. Through hard work and lots of collaboration, the TORCH (Teachers of Ohio Representing Character and Heart) recognition was rolled out this winter. In its inaugural year, TORCH recognizes teachers for their engagement with the community and advancement of educational equity. Five honorees from across the state were selected and recognized during surprise events this spring. I am honored to have met Tequila Pennington-Calwise of Cleveland Metro Schools, Leila Kubesch from Norwood City Schools, Sylvania’s Tami Blue, Sarah Thornburg of Columbus City Schools, and Alicia Spears from the Tri-State STEM+M Early College High School. These teachers strive to teach the whole child and every child. I, for one, cannot wait to hear about the teachers that will be recognized through this program in the future, for their service-centered lives.
Honestly, what I am most excited about is the future of the teacher-in-residence program and how it will continue even when I am gone. I am thrilled to see how future Ohio Teachers of the Year will put their own unique spin on engaging educators to use their voices, advance leadership, and recognize the goodness in one another. When I am back in my art room at Liberty Tree Elementary School this fall, I know that Mona Al-Hayani, the 2019 Ohio Teacher of the Year, will be stepping into this role, rebranded as the Ohio Teacher Fellowship. She will bring professionalism and passion to her work, advocating for all of Ohio’s teachers and students.
On my last full day as the Ohio teacher-in-residence, the Department hosted the first-ever Teacher Leadership Summit at The Ohio State University. Two hundred teacher leaders and administrators came from across the state to join Department staff and share in a day of learning and inspiration that had taken most of the year to plan. Many of the amazing people I met over the past few months were there, making connections with one another and filling the room with energy. As the morning opened, I stood on the stage looking out at faces I had not known a year prior and the table of staff members from my own school. These colleagues, both the familiar and the new, had become a part of the journey. I stood there at the summit realizing that this year-long adventure, this metaphoric summit, was only the beginning for me…for all of us. There are new mountains and challenges to take on in the quest to advance teacher voices, leadership and recognition. How incredibly grateful I am for the opportunity to have represented the amazing educators of Ohio in this work as the teacher-in-residence.
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By: Guest Blogger
Senior year of high school is a unique, awkward transition; you’ve outgrown high school, yet you’re not even close to being ready for the amazing opportunities the future will bring. It is on this threshold that I now stand. The possibilities of the future have become a reality, and my senior year has been more than I could have ever expected. I have worked harder in these past eight months than I ever have before, and it has definitely paid off.
As a student, I have always planned to go to college, but that never stopped me from enrolling in a career-technical program to enrich my educational experience. The two-year graphic design class has become one of my all-time favorites due to its unique structure and non-traditional approach to art education. The time a student spends in high school no longer has to be focused solely on traditional academic pursuits. Today, many traditional high schools, like my own, Canton South, offer career-oriented programs in addition to typical academic courses. During my last year as a high school student, I have found great successes academically, competitively and, most importantly, I have found my future.
In December of 2018, I received my scores from the ACT, SAT and SAT English Subject Test. They were 36, 1600 and 800 respectively — all perfect scores. These results were more than I could have ever hoped to receive, but everything I had worked for. I spent hours each day doing homework from my many Advanced Placement and College Credit Plus classes, only to spend hours more on test prep. I felt as if I could actually be a competitive applicant to Ivy League institutions because of my scores. They even helped me earn a full ride to The Ohio State University. I also applied to Stanford, Princeton, Cornell, Barnard and Columbia. I plan on attending Barnard in the fall to major in English. Since this subject has always been close to my heart, I want to pursue a career in publishing. Although this may not appear to be related to my career-tech program, there is value in courses that teach professional skills.
However hard I have worked to excel in my academic pursuits, I have worked equally hard in my career-tech program. My participation in the graphic design career-technical program led me to a third-place finish in the state Business Professionals of America competition in digital publishing. This earned me a place in the national competition. Although I have chosen to pursue higher education rather than going directly into a career, my career-tech program has become central to my high school experience. Many opportunities I would not otherwise have had, have been available to me through this class. Not only has it made me a more competitive applicant, but graphic design also has taught me many things about the professional world. I have learned to be a better communicator, interviewee and, most importantly, graphic designer.
I stand now at the threshold to the next chapter in my life. As a prospective college student, it was extremely hard to maintain the motivation that built me a competitive application. Without the support I received from my friends, family and teachers, I know I would not be in the position I am today. Throughout my journey in high school, it was hard for me to decide what college, let alone what career, was best for me. It was only at the beginning of my senior year that I actually started researching colleges and working to achieve my goals. Although I was able to achieve my goals, it often felt like there was not enough time to fulfill my expectations. My senior year in high school was, by far, my favorite; from competitions to test scores to college decisions, every experience has helped prepare me for my future. I only wish I had started preparing sooner.
Dinah Ward is a high school senior at Canton South High School. After graduation, she plans to study English at Barnard College so she can pursue a career in publishing.
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By: Jonathan Juravich
Editor’s Note: During the Ohio Teacher of the Year selection process, outstanding educators from each of the 11 State Board of Education districts are chosen to be District Teachers of the Year. Finalists for the Ohio Teacher of the Year will be selected from these 11 honorees. Ultimately, only one will become the Ohio Teacher of the Year. This person is then in the running to be the National Teacher of the Year.
As the nomination window for the 2020 Ohio Teacher of the Year opens, 2018 Teacher of the Year Jonathan Juravich invited Bre Sambuchino, a 2019 Ohio Teacher of the Year finalist, to help him write this blog. Below, Jonathan and Bre share how their respective recognitions have impacted their careers and lives. They also invite you to nominate an outstanding teacher for this honor.
Jonathan Juravich, 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year
To be named the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year set into motion the most remarkable year and a half of my life. To be honest, I will never be the same again. I have realized that I have become a stronger version of myself. I am confident in sharing my perspective and my experiences in the classroom. I have learned what true leadership can be and how sometimes sitting back and actually listening to someone else can mean so much more than being the loudest voice in the room. I have learned that Ohio Teacher of the Year is so much more than a title, it is an opportunity, a responsibility and full of possibilities.
Right before the announcement was made of my recognition, I was on a conference call with previous honorees. One of them said, “You are going to join the most incredible professional network of people when you meet the other state teachers of the year.” I remember rolling my eyes. Really? Another network of educators? I think I’m okay. And then I met the 54 other state Teachers of the Year and realized this was so much more than a professional network. This group of educators has so many things in common with me — they process the same struggles, challenge me to think bigger, are there when I need someone to listen and have opened my eyes to gratitude. They have become my close friends.
Together, we have had once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We explored Google’s campus, shared our experiences with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, toured the White House, attended Space Camp and stood on the field during the national anthem at the National Championship football game. And the adventures continue. Then, there was that day I stood on the TED stage in New York City, telling the stories of my students, my daughter and my grandmother to fellow teachers in the audience.
Throughout these experiences, I was very cognizant that I was representing Ohio and the excellent educators of our state. I knew when I saw something amazing or experienced excellent professional learning, it was my job to share it with the people who needed it. And now, piloting the teacher-in-residence position at the Ohio Department of Education, I have had the opportunity to meet and celebrate some of the most remarkable educators across our state.
This experience has led me to dream big and believe in possibilities — possibilities for my students, for education and for myself.
Bre Sambuchino, 2019 Ohio Teacher of the Year Finalist
I remember the day when my superintendent walked in my class with flowers in hand. I was teaching Education Principles. This is a class for seniors who wish to become teachers, and they are absolutely delightful — a joy, really. She came in and explained she had just submitted my name for Ohio Teacher of the Year. The students in the class were enthralled. They wanted to know everything and asked, “So, what is next?” “When will she know?” “How can we help?” I remember thinking they were being so sweet, but I was pretty sure my road was going to end that day because I knew of all the amazing teachers that were in my building — let alone the state of Ohio.
They asked for a group hug. Yes, a hug. Senior students were hugging it out. I thought, “Maybe I did teach them something.” As the instructor for our school’s Teaching Professions Academy, my motto is to do all things with grace and love.
The Ohio Teacher of the Year process continued and was challenging at times. I was juggling a lot of life changes at the same time as I was preparing for my presentation and writing my essays. However, the process gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life and, for that, I am grateful. When all the essays were written, I realized I like building and creating things. Almost everything I had been recognized for had been for creating something that had not existed previously.
The process gave me confidence, which gave me grace. It gave me the opportunity to say, “What is next?” Since then, I have volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul Retrofittings Committee, and I recently met with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society about becoming involved in their work. I love working on teams, building things and creating anew.
In the classroom, the Ohio Teacher of the Year process has solidified the passion I have for my vocation. I know I am meant to be an educator. I love what I do and am grateful for each day. I love modeling grace and love, and I know I am where I am meant to be.
Our challenge is for school administrators, community members, parents, students and fellow educators to nominate an outstanding teacher for the Ohio Teacher of the Year program. Excellent teachers open doors to opportunities for students. In turn, excellent teachers deserve to have doors opened for them.
Jonathan Juravich is the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year, was a finalist for National Teacher of the Year and serves as the Ohio Department of Education’s teacher-in-residence.
<Bre Sambuchino is the State Board District 4 Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for 2019 Ohio Teacher of the Year. She teaches in Loveland City School District.
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By: Staff Blogger
As students prepare for the next steps on their learning journeys, Ohio Department of Education staff members are always thrilled to hear how these plans will help others, positively impact their peers and shape the future of our state. One central Ohio student’s career aspirations will certainly shape education, but from a position that may not be on typical high school senior’s radar. Andrew Knox’s goal is to become the state superintendent of public instruction.
Andrew reached out to State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria to share that the Department was a planned stop on his career path, so he may fill Ohio’s top seat in education and one day become the state superintendent. On Feb. 20, Andrew took one step closer to his ultimate career goal when he reported for duty at the Ohio Department of Education and assumed the ceremonial role of state superintendent for the day.
Andrew’s resume certainly is not limited to his single day tenure as state superintendent. As a student at the Ohio School for the Deaf, Andrew already has made a profound impact to address the challenges faced by Deaf Ohioans and is an advocate for shaping the ways in which these areas can be addressed. Prior to serving as Ohio’s state schools chief, Andrew helped change the course of state history with his contributing efforts to support the passage of legislation in 2017 to declare Ohio Deaf History Month (March 13-April 15).
Much like Superintendent DeMaria encounters daily, Andrew kept a full calendar of connections with partners to continue strengthening the learning opportunities for Ohio’s 1.7 million K-12 students. From meetings with other state agency directors and members of the governor’s cabinet to sharing his positions on policy during a mock interview with a Columbus Dispatch reporter to lobbying for additional funding for early literacy education for Deaf students, Andrew’s critical thinking, creativity and collaboration skills were on full display.
Our team extends gratitude to Andrew for sharing his ideas, inspiring our work and spending the day with us at the Ohio Department of Education. Follow Andrew’s entire day below through Superintendent DeMaria’s Twitter feed!
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By: Jonathan Juravich
In the field of education, teachers are a part of an incredible relay — a passing of the torch. Knowledge and guidance are passed from teacher to student, from teacher to teacher, and from teacher to the community. Over the course of my first 14 years in education, I have been a part of this relay with some exceptional teachers. These teachers do remarkable things for their students and communities.
Erin Budic is one of those inspiring educators. This third grade teacher at Liberty Tree Elementary School in Powell was affected by a student’s illness. She organized a school-sponsored American Red Cross blood drive to benefit other patients. Many years and many blood drives later, Erin has helped the school and the American Red Cross collect 1,056 units of blood.
And, in the past year as the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year and the Ohio Department of Education teacher-in-residence, I have had the pleasure of meeting teachers from all corners of the state of Ohio who astound me with their heart for the community. David Kaser teaches in Barberton City School District. In his high school STEM program, students design and utilize a 3D printer to create prosthetic hands to be donated to individuals across the globe. David’s students know how to utilize their learning to impact others.
Teachers know their work extends beyond the curriculum or their specific areas of instruction. They know that before students can meet academic goals, they must feel seen, valued and safe. For these reasons, I am incredibly excited about the inaugural year of the Teachers of Ohio Representing Character and Heart (TORCH) recognition.
Administrators, fellow educators, community members, parents and students can nominate teachers whose dedication to social justice and their communities makes them stand out in the most inspiring ways. Five Ohio teachers will be selected for the TORCH recognition and will be honored in a surprise reveal later this school year.
Please consider nominating a teacher who truly models a life of compassion, integrity, honor, and respect by visiting the TORCH website. Nominations are due Jan. 31, 2019. Together, let’s celebrate those educators who are making an immeasurable impact on their students, schools, communities and our future.
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By: Jonathan Juravich
A week after I was named the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year, I received a note from an administrator in another part of the state asking if I really thought I “was the best teacher in Ohio.” I was taken aback by this question — the answer clearly is no. I am in no way the best teacher in Ohio or even at my school. But I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to advocate for and represent teachers from all corners of our state. And over the past year, I have had the opportunity to meet remarkable, inspiring teachers who are nothing short of superheroes.
My 5-year-old came home from her first week of kindergarten in Columbus City Schools proclaiming, “Mrs. Coneglio is a superhero without a cape.” Within those first few days with her teacher, she realized something very important — this teacher did remarkable things for her and the rest of her classmates. Mrs. Coneglio was not flashy with a sparkling uniform and a flowing cape. She did not have a mask concealing her identity. Instead, she was an everyday person with the extraordinary ability to build connections and bring her students into a state of awe.
During this season of thanks, I want to take the opportunity to thank the remarkable teachers across Ohio who give of themselves every day for their students and communities. These teachers believe in the power of their students as individuals. And for that, I am truly grateful.
I am thankful for teachers like Veronica Cotton, a third-grade teacher at John P. Parker Elementary in Cincinnati Public Schools, who welcomed me into her classroom with open arms. I watched her validate and then integrate her students’ unique experiences into their learning during Language Arts and Science. Thank you, Veronica, for reminding me, and all of us, that our students’ individual contexts fundamentally influence their learning.
Thank you, Dillon Sedar, art teacher at Munroe Elementary with Tallmadge City Schools. His students bring in works of art they create at home to trade with him. He proudly takes their masterpieces and gives them a piece of his own artwork. This connection validates their role as individual artists. Thank you, Dillon, for challenging and valuing your students’ individual voices and creative spirits.
I am grateful for the infectious positivity spread by Jen Savage, a teacher of the deaf at Windermere Elementary in Upper Arlington. In small, purposeful ways, she works tirelessly to make sure her students and their families are taken care of and well represented. Thank you, Jen, for all you do to make learning accessible to all students.
Thanks, Arthur Lard. Arthur is a business teacher at Portsmouth High School. He teaches financial literacy, educating his students about the economic risks that could profoundly impact their lives. He encourages them to be patient and take time to find their own answers instead of relying on teacher-driven decisions and solutions. Thank you, Arthur, for empowering your students as they consider their futures.
Many thanks to Bre Sambuchino of Loveland High School. Bre models selflessness for her students through community service-oriented instruction. The Day of Service she organizes for her high school students gets them into the community to make a very real difference for others. Students attach notes of love and affirmation they have written to coats they donate to a local center. Thank you, Bre, for inspiring the future leaders, teachers and citizens of our world with kindness and empathy.
To this small handful of educators and the countless others across Ohio, I say, thank you. Thank you for your leadership, your voice and your dedication to your students…our future. Though you might not wear a cape to school each day, know that those young eyes looking back at you see you in a theatrical way. They envision you in a stance of strength and power, with the wind in your hair and lights shining behind you. To those students. Your students. YOU are a superhero.
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By: Stephanie Donofe Meeks
A strong school library program has a powerful effect on literacy and learning for all students. In a March 2018 Phi Delta Kappan article called Why school librarians matter: What years of research tell us, Keith Curry Lance and Debra E. Kachel cite research that supports this:
Since 1992, a growing body of research known as the school library impact studies has consistently shown positive correlations between high-quality library programs and student achievement (Gretes, 2013; Scholastic, 2016). Data from more than 34 statewide studies (including Ohio) suggest that students tend to earn better standardized test scores in schools that have strong library programs.
The work and impact of school libraries directly align to support Ohio’s strategic plan for education, Each Child, Our Future. School librarians especially support the four learning domains because school libraries serve as a connector among all four domains.
In the domain of Foundational Knowledge and Skills, school libraries clearly have a strong focus on literacy and technology. From teaching students about media and digital literacy to a lifelong love of learning, literacy in all forms is the key to a strong school library program.
In a conversation I had with Deb Logan, the president of the Ohio Educational Library Media Association (OELMA), she talked about why school libraries matter and how they promote student achievement. She commented that school libraries provide choices and support students as they find their voices. They help students consider using a source or not. School librarians teach critical thinking skills for evaluating media sources. A school librarian changes a school library from a repository of information to a place to create new information sources and students from consumers of information to creators of resources.
I am a former school librarian, and I keep my license current. I am proud to serve as the Department liaison to OELMA. OELMA just had its annual conference and, across the board, the sessions supported all four areas of Each Child, Our Future. For example, the session called Lending Hope in Times of Trauma supported social-emotional learning. The program described the session like this: School librarians have unique opportunities to lend hope and foster resiliency and wellness and create an environment of safe refuge for students in their school libraries.
Sessions focused on everything from literacy and technology to design thinking. They covered makerspaces and STEM — the librarians in Ohio are truly Future Ready and able to serve as reliable instructional partners and resources for students and staff in your schools.
In addition to the professional learning at the conference, OELMA honored some superhero Ohio school librarians who received recognition with an Ohio Educational Library Media Association Notable Award grant or scholarship. The awardees included:
- Kristine Konik, Westerville City Schools - Leadership in Action Award;
- Shelley Bertsch, Rossford Schools - Floyd Dickman Programming Grant;
- Amy Price, Princeton City Schools - Intellectual Freedom Award;
- Brandi Young, South-Western City Schools and Angela Wojtecki, Nordonia Hills Schools - Information Technology Innovation Awards;
- Betsy Gugle, Columbus School for Girls - Outstanding Administrator Award;
- Dr. Christina Dorr, Hilliard City Schools - OELMA Outstanding School Librarian Award;
- Meagan Fowler, St. Joseph Academy - Library Leadership Ohio Scholarship.
OELMA provides up to two scholarships for licensed school librarians who are OELMA members to participate in Library Leadership Ohio. Library Leadership Ohio, a collaboration between the State Library of Ohio and OhioNET, is an institute designed to develop future leaders for Ohio libraries.
In addition to honoring educators, OELMA honors four K-12 students who value reading for pleasure and share their joy of reading with others with the Read on, Ohio! award.
Congratulations to the following:
- Isaac Simkanin - Rootstown Elementary School;
- Hannah Sadler - Hilliard Weaver Middle School;
- Caitlin Klein - Maplewood High School;
- Emoni Harmon - Rossford High School.
You can find more about all of OELMA’s awards, grants and scholarships on its website.
In addition to the conference, another source of inspiration for school librarians is Future Ready. The Ohio school library community embraces the #FutureReadyOH movement. See their commitment to be part of this here. High-quality school libraries are so important that Future Ready librarians across the nation designed a specific framework to help them align their work. The learner-centered focus on literacy drives the seven gears and the momentum for librarians to lead from the library. For districts, supporting a strong library program allows you to create an intersection where all four learning domains can unite…school libraries truly are the heart of it all!
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By: Jonathan Juravich
My 5-year-old daughter loves routines. And bedtime is when routines reign supreme. There is the bath, new pajamas, brushing teeth, talking about our favorite parts of the day, two books, two songs and lights out. Every night, this same order of events leads her to know that regardless of whether the sun is still up or not, it is time for bed.
There are two pieces of this routine that are my favorite. The stories. As my daughter tells me about her favorite part of the day, I hear about her friends, their preschool hijinks, the kindness of teachers or the harrowing adventures on the playground. Sometimes she tells me that eating dinner as a family was her favorite moment or how her baby brother gave her the stink eye and she can’t stop laughing about it. Regardless, Josie uses descriptive language as she recounts the details to make me feel included.
And then, I read to her from books. Since her birth, I have delighted in reading her my favorites — “Where the Wild Things Are,” “The Wizard of Oz” and all things written by Mo Willems. Through these books and many others, I can open her world up to adventure, imagination, possibilities and life. Her head resting on my shoulder — she hangs on each word.
Why do we love stories so much? They engage us, they challenge us, they ignite thinking and dreaming. They make us feel included and open our eyes to new experiences and ways of seeing. Stories are important.
As the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year, I took part in a formal induction with the other incredible state teachers of the year. Time and time again, we were challenged to tell our stories. As educators, we all have them.
Stories that are hilarious, teachers dressed in sumo suits rolling across the gym floor after their students met a fundraising goal.
Stories that are heartbreaking, a friendship bracelet shared with me from a student with pediatric cancer who said, “We will be best friends forever, as long as that is.”
And stories that are downright inspirational, the student with autism who found her voice through cartoon illustrations thanks to the support of her teachers who saw her as an individual.
Stories are meant to be shared. To tell our families, our circle of friends, the community, lawmakers and other educators about the important work we do every day. It is one thing to share a funny story, but what about the why? What are you trying to highlight, advocate for or change? Through storytelling, we advocate for our profession and for one another. See, stories make things personal. It is one thing to share data, numbers, pie charts…but narratives about the successes of real-life students and educators are truly powerful.
It might mean making reflection and journaling a part of your nightly routine, so you don’t forget the stories of the day. Or taking a moment to sit and gather a repertoire of narratives that you want to make sure you share with others. Take time to think about those students who have made a direct impact on you, those teachers who have inspired you to be the educator you are today, those pieces of personal history that brought you to the field. Write them down, think them through, internalize the important facts, characters and resulting outcomes.
For this school year, I am stepping away from my classroom to work as a teacher-in-residence at the Ohio Department of Education. During this time, I will be sure to share the stories of the exceptional educators and students the Department’s work influences. I look forward to connecting with teachers throughout the state and sharing our unique stories.
We all need to take a moment to stop, reflect and then share. Because these stories, these pivotal moments, should remind us why we joined this remarkable field of education.
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By: Guest Blogger
Throughout my entire life, my mom always pushed me to be a leader and not a follower, so I always hold myself to that standard. I believe that helped me get to where I am today. Today, I am very proud to serve as the president of Educators Rising Ohio. Educators Rising Ohio is a career-tech student organization that includes more than 1,000 students who wish to pursue careers in the education field. On a national level, Educators Rising includes more than 30,000 members. Career-tech student organizations such as Educators Rising Ohio have helped me and students throughout the state and country. I also am currently the captain of my football and wrestling teams, and I strive to push others in a positive direction. As president of Educator Rising Ohio, I look forward to further developing my abilities as a leader.
I would not be pursuing this field if it were not for Mr. Richard Wakefield. He is our lead instructor for the Heights Career Tech Prep Consortium Teacher Academy at Maple Heights High School, as well as our Educators Rising Ohio teacher leader. I took his career search class as a freshman, and I saw something in him. He is fiery and not afraid to challenge a student to do better. Where many teachers would throw in the towel, Mr. Wakefield keeps on pushing. He never stops. Mr. Wakefield saw something in me as well. He could see that I try to lead others. He could see that I am motivated by my struggles. When he asked me to join the Teacher Academy, he told me there is no better way for a man to give back to society than to become a teacher. He also told me that I could have even more influence because I am black, and there are very few black male teachers.
I have always loved sports and helping others. Mr. Wakefield has helped me realize that teaching and coaching would be a good career to enter after my football-playing days are over. I can see myself being a great teacher in the classroom and a great coach on the sideline. I can see myself using my talents and passions to change lives.
For now, as president, one of my first goals is to bring Educators Rising Ohio to more students. We are a student-led organization that not only teaches students how to become great teachers but prepares them for life as well. Educators Rising Ohio stretches students’ opportunities in life tremendously. We expose students to colleges and a multitude of careers and help each individual develop professionalism and character. By learning and applying these things in everyday life, success in life seems more attainable. From the beginning, children are always told to set goals and then take the necessary steps to achieve those goals. Educators Rising Ohio emphasizes that state of mind and immerses one in the field to get hands-on practice. Educators Rising Ohio prepares students for teaching and life. The organization also helps students develop relationships with people they would never meet otherwise.
Anyone who would like to join Educators Rising Ohio should visit this website. It is a great way to start your journey to becoming a teacher.
Antoine Holloway II is the current president of Educators Rising Ohio. He will be a high school senior in the fall. To learn more about Educators Rising, contact Angela Dicke.
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Last Modified: 5/17/2019 3:20:37 PM