11th Grade Algebra II and Pre-Calculus
12th Grade AP Calculus
Advisor to Teaching Residents
University of Georgia
Relay Graduate School of Education
What was your path like to Freire Wilmington?
The first year that Freire Wilmington was open, my Saturday school classes at Relay [Graduate School of Education] were taking place there. So I got to know a few of the staff members, just from seeing them around. A couple of them were in my grad school classes, and I was hearing really good things about the school and its mission. At that time, I was pretty heavily recruited to be on the team, but I wanted to finish out the year at the school I was at… So I joined the team in fall of 2016 and have been there ever since.
I’ve always liked being a teacher at a newer, younger school so I can help shape the vision and help figure out the mission. Freire Wilmington fits a lot of the same values that I have about personal freedom, expression, and peaceful social justice. It’s just the right place for me.
How did you get involved with the Teaching Residency program at Freire Wilmington?
I knew about the Residency program because I was a graduate student at Relay Graduate School of Education. [Freire Wilmington] didn’t have the program yet when I was there; I was actually in the first graduating class of the Delaware cohort.
This upcoming year, when [Freire Wilmington] said, “We’re bringing on a math resident and would like you to be the advisor,” I absolutely signed on, because I personally think that the first year of being a teacher is always the hardest. At so many other high-pressure stressful jobs, like being a doctor, you don’t graduate from med school and they hand you a clipboard and say, “Good luck in the hospital!” There’s a residency. I think that shadowing for a year and getting to see the ins and outs of teaching is… something that I wish was there when I had been in my first year. At least from what I’ve observed, [Teaching Residents] definitely seem more comfortable in the classroom, versus a more traditional first-year teacher, who might have only had a couple weeks or months, or in some cases no student-teaching experience.
How do you develop your own teaching practice?
For me as a math teacher, a lot of it comes from observing; I’ve gotten the chance to observe really great math teachers, both in my building and from other places. Being coached directly by mentors has always been where I see the most growth for myself. Just being in a school with a strong culture around who they are and who we’re shaping our students to be, and using that as my North Star to guide what my classrooms should look like and how I approach working with students.
What is the community like at Freire Wilmington?
The fact that we have alumni working at our school as employees, and that I am still in touch with dozens of students that I have taught over the years from here, and that on Teacher Appreciation Day I’m getting text messages and calls: It’s unlike anywhere else I have worked.
I truly believe that at our school, every kid has multiple adults and other kids. No one’s lonely. Everyone has people they’re connected to. I think that’s intentional. We’ve built systems around things like mediation and really trying to push our kids to resolve conflict nonviolently and through talking, and just getting to know each other.
What is your favorite unit to teach?
I really love teaching about a technique called L’Hôpital’s rule. The reason I love teaching it is because in calculus, we start off talking about limits, and then we go into something called derivatives. Limits is always a really hard unit for kids, they’re always really mad during limits, and then we get to derivatives, and they’re a little bit like “Okay, I’m getting this,” and then we get to L’Hôpital’s rule which allows us to take a derivative and use it to find a limit. And that is the lesson where I get to see connections being made, lightbulbs going off, kids are like, “Oh, I get this!” Seeing that, and how much it builds their confidence, there’s just so much fun because I feel like that’s when kids start to feel that they’re in on the secrets of calculus. That’s always a lot of fun for me and them too.
What advice would you give to someone who is on the fence about applying to the Teaching Residency at Freire Schools?
I think that out of all the programs out there, this, to me, is the actual support that you need to be a successful classroom teacher. And it’s a year. It’s not asking you to go back to school for four years. It’s one year of pretty intense learning, but it’s going to prepare you better than other programs.
I would also just reiterate how amazing it is to have your Master’s in Education after two years. Getting your first year under your belt while you’re still kind of easing in is amazing. It’s just a way better program than a lot of teacher training programs out there. It’s the right path for anyone who is serious about and passionate about teaching, particularly in an underserved community.Join Our Team