8th Grade ELA Teacher
9th Grade English I Teacher
Advisor to Teaching Residents
St. John’s University
Relay Graduate School of Education
What was your path like to Freire Wilmington?
I actually was working at a school two blocks away from Freire Wilmington, and I was in a Relay [Graduate School of Education] program – I was in my second year, and I was with classmates who were working at Freire Schools… That’s kind of what brought me here, just knowing and hearing them talk about Freire Schools, especially the mission, really made me interested. When I interviewed, seeing all the students really being interested in what they were learning, it really made me want to join the school even more.
When I arrived at Freire Wilmington, [Relay] Professor Davidson reached out to me to advise the Teaching Residents, and that’s how I got started as a Resident Advisor. That was the first time I really got to give feedback, observe, and talk with Professor Davidson about what I noticed.
What are your duties as a Resident Advisor?
My day-to-day duties would just be observing the residents, giving constant feedback, not necessarily official meetings, but just, “Hey, this is a lesson I saw, these are some quick things to work on, do you need any help supporting students?” Or having them help me make a lesson and getting their input, because I want them to feel like it’s their classroom as well, like we’re doing it together. Knowing firsthand how much work Residents have to do for class, and also being a Teaching Assistant, and working in a school for the first time, it can be overwhelming. I always schedule weekly meetings to go over the week that I observed: things to work on, and really great things that I saw.
How did you develop your own teaching practice? What’s it like to help others shape theirs?
Honestly, I was really grateful to have a great mentor my first year of teaching, who was able to show me the ropes and tell me, “You already know what you’re doing; just be confident.” But really, it was just coming into it every day and not second guessing yourself. I think part of being a teacher is you have to think on your feet. That’s how you learn, because you can plan all you want, you can plan the greatest lesson, but a lot of times the most unexpected things happen and you just have to be able to roll with it. So I think the reason I have become such a confident teacher is in part because of the mentorship I received. The Relay School in general really helped me with lessons and being more confident academically, but being in a school and working with the kids directly helped me just gain more confidence and know, “Okay, when I step into the classroom, this is the type of teacher I want to be.”
I’ve always loved English. My speech pathology major has helped me a lot in explaining to students the breakdown of words. Because I know the phonetic alphabet, it can help me a lot with teaching those things. For me, when I read now, and when I’m creating lessons, I think on the origins of words; speech pathology helps me make the content I teach better.
What’s your favorite unit to teach?
I love Shakespeare. When you tell the kids that you’re going to teach them Shakespeare and they’re going to read Shakespeare, they always hate it. Then, by the end of the unit, they love it. No matter what play you teach them, they always end up loving it because of how dramatic Shakespeare is. We read Romeo and Juliet November to January, and by the end, students were like, “This makes sense! This is so easy; I get it.” And I love teaching it, because students can walk away knowing that they understand Shakespearean language.
What is the staff community like at Freire Wilmington?
We’re definitely a family. We’re all very close… Everyone will always help someone out. We’re always like, “Hey, can someone come by? Does anyone have this?” And within a minute, someone’s at your door with what you need.
What advice would you give to someone about applying to the Teaching Residency at Freire Schools?
For the Teaching Residency, I would say that it is the biggest help that I have ever received. When I heard about Relay and how cost effective it was, and saw the coursework, it made the difference. The things they teach you are really the things you need to become an effective teacher. They really do help you every step of the way. It’s also a gradual release model, so you’re not teaching directly in your first year (because that’s terrifying!). You ease your way into it, so by the second year, you’re more confident as a teacher. You won’t feel by yourself, thrown into the fires of teaching. You really do work your way into it. All the professors at Relay are there to help you. Even if you get overwhelmed with the course load, they work with you to make sure that you feel supported, because doing a Master’s Program while also teaching is a hard balance to keep, and they really do work with you.
As for working at Freire Schools, and specifically Freire Wilmington since that’s where I am, I will say that you will always meet a group of funny goofy kids who really just are rays of sunshine. They’re the greatest kids, and you’ll have a team around you that really will go out of their way to help you.
I could never say enough great things about the Relay Residency. It’s helped me become a better teacher. If anyone ever has any in-depth questions about what the workload process was, how to keep the balance, or any tips of the trade, my email can be sent to anyone to talk further. I know it’s very hard to want to become a teacher, because there’s so many unknowns, but the rewards are really worth it.Join Our Team