My Love of Teaching

I come from a long line of educators dating back to the early 1700's, when my German ancestors first arrived to America. My family arrived on a ship that docked in Philadelphia and at that time, William Penn was attempting to make Pennsylvania a colony.

As the brave souls, who crossed the North Atlantic on the tiny ship, disembarked, a representative of Penn's, greeted them and asked them if they'd like to stay in the area. He offered them rich farmland if they'd stay. Mine received 1,000 acres of land and became Mennonite preachers and teachers.

The first, became the school master of a one room school house that had kids ages 5 to 16. In those days, the kids had to work on the farm, so there were no vacations. When the crops had to be planted, there was no school. When the crops had to be harvested, again, school wasn't in session. I often think about my one room teacher ancestor when teachers mention that they have a hard time working with different ability levels.

Others in my family, who have been teachers or professors, include:

My great aunt who was a co-founder of the Weekly Reader children's publication

An older cousin who is a retired professor and who was part of a team to translate the Dead Sea Scrolls.
He also works with teams in the catacombs beneath Paris, France, to study the bones of the deceased and to figure out who they were. He's linguistically talented and translated the Syrian Bible into five different languages.

My great grandmother, was a poetess, who lived on a farm and raised many children. Our family was given a copy of an exquisite poem that she wrote in beautiful script writing of the times. It's the only piece that we have and I often wonder if she would have been a famous writer, if she lived in the present times.

Another great aunt was the Superintendent of Bethlehem Public Schools in Pennsylvania, back in the 1920's, when it was unheard of for a woman to hold that position. She went on to become a Professor of Mathematics at Temple University in Philadelphia, and retired in her 70's, at which time she went to Germany to research our German ancestors. She then published a leather bound book about them and created huge family tree posters that hang proudly in our homes.

On my father's side, I come from a long line of relatives who were journalists and started up newspapers in the Syracuse, New York area. My father was a freshman journalism major at Syracuse University, but was drafted into the U.S Army and proudly served in General George Patton's Third Army. He was lucky to survive and when he returned to the U.S, he continued his studies.

And then, there's me..

From the time I entered school, I wanted to be a teacher. What really set my mind to it, was when I was in third grade, eight years old, and I had an old teacher who did nothing but make us read books, and answer questions as she read the newspaper at her desk. I was determined to become a great teacher from that point on. I  decided that I would create fun, yet educational lessons and worksheets that would instill a love of learning!

I've been a teacher in Connecticut, for over 25 years. My experience has been in elementary school (all subjects) and middle school. I also love creating lessons for grades 9-12! Here are a few things I've done. I was on the Weekly Reader National Teacher Advisory Board for 12 years. We worked closely with the editorial, marketing and graphic arts departments brainstorming for new ideas for the newspaper. I was very lucky to be selected out of all the other state reps to represent Weekly Reader on ABC's "Good Morning America" with Joan London and Charlie Gibson.

I was a NASA "Student Signatures in Space" Teacher. for ten years. I was the first in my state to have students participate in a live teleconference at the Mall in Washington D.C My students were able to chat with and listen to space experts from our computer lab. Those included John Glenn and Homer Hickum (his life story is the book Rocket Boys and the movie is "October Sky").

My students were able to sign a special NASA website. Their signatures were burned to a CD and dropped off on Mars with the Mars Rover. As we were signing the CD, one boy hesitated and told me that he couldn't possibly sign the CD. When I asked him the reason, he looked at me very seriously and told me that if he placed his signature on the CD, that the Martians would know where he lives. I had to turn around to stifle my giggles, then turned back and whispered to him that there are no Martians. It was a beautiful teaching moment!

I was a guest presenter at the NELMS Convention in Providence, Rhode Island for four years (New England League of Middle Schools)  I presented my GeoBear project that I ran in my classes for 11 years. On the average, over 6,000 educators from around the U.S, and Canada attended but we also had teachers from Australia, Norway and other foreign countries.

More to come...