1. How did you get into the education field and where are you now?

I grew up in the education lifestyle. My mother was a teacher at Split Rock Elementary School. Even in high school, I would work at the Learning Center tutoring kids. When I graduated college in 2009, no one was hiring in Central New York, so I moved to Virginia where I taught fourth grade for four years. As soon as the West Genesee School District was hiring again, I started applying. I taught third grade at Onondaga Road Elementary for six years before working as a math coach. That position gave me the opportunity to travel to different schools and interact with different people while supporting teachers in curriculum instruction. My goal was to be a principal in the West Genesee District, and this year I was given the opportunity to be an assistant principal at Camillus Middle School. I get to see the third graders again who I once taught and are now in seventh grade. It’s fun to see how much they’ve grown and to reconnect. I have also coached modified track and junior varsity basketball.

2. What do you hope to achieve this school year at Camillus Middle School?

Our school motto is ‘CMS Better Together,’ so I am excited about the opportunity to get all of the teachers who teach seventh and eighth grade together working in collaboration to best meet the needs of all of our students. There are so many opportunities to come together as teachers and students now that we are back in school, and not split between Camillus Middle School and West Genesee Middle School.

3. Is there anything that was implemented due to COVID-19 that you found to work well – and will keep in place this year?

In our older model, students came together for ninth grade, when all four elementary buildings combined. Now, with our new structure, they have the chance to build long-lasting friends starting when all elementary schools combine at grade 5. There are more chances to say, “We’ve been best friends since fifth (or seventh) grade.” Students can find their unique friendship groups earlier which I believe will increase their overall social and emotional wellbeing.

With all of the technological changes, we will keep virtual open houses this year. Open houses tend to feel a little hectic when in-person. When we had them virtually, it really accommodated parents. We will also continue to use Zoom. One reason for that is professions where there is one teacher per school (a studio art teacher), they will be able to connect with other studio art teachers from other schools. The teaching profession will improve because collaboration will grow. I’m excited to see how we can use tools, such as a laptop, to develop the student’s learning.

Know an educator who deserves a mention? Email courtneyk@familytimescny.com.

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