I grew up in a small town in southern Michigan. My family is very close and we often turn to one another for support. My parents were both teachers and my sister runs a daycare. When I need to know where to find “zoo food” for the sensory table or a reminder on how to make a function machine, I call them. My sister and brother are considerably older than me but we have become very close now that I am an adult. I am closer in age to my nephews and niece and we grew up in the same schools.
Until eighth grade, I attended a one-room school with an average of fifteen K-12 students. With so many ages together, we were taught to help one another when we finished our own work. Because of this, my first teaching experiences occurred very early in life. My first formal teaching experience was in seventh grade, when I was able to plan and teach the curriculum for the first grade social studies. In addition to helping our peers, we also did service learning in the community. Every Tuesday morning we visited nursing homes where we participated in morning exercises with the residents and then shared stories. One lady there taught my friend and me the alphabet in sign language, which I remember to this day. We also grew and potted plants for area nursing homes, helped run a program that provided coats for children, and sponsored families at Christmas. In addition to these things, we spent a lot of time outside. The school was located on 100 acres of forest and wetlands with a lake. Nature was often our classroom. We made skunk cabbage stew with solar cookers we had crafted and made educational videos about animals and plants we encountered. My dad taught math and science and my mother, with the help of a few others, taught everything else. Because of this, I spent my weekends copying and designing lessons with my mom. In the summer, I loved waiting for the UPS man to bring the new books for the next year. These early experiences I had, especially those in science and service learning, are things that I will bring to my own classroom.
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. In high school I had a cadet teaching experience in a first grade classroom and realized the importance of a positive start to schooling. I began looking for colleges with excellent teaching programs. I choose to attend Alma College because the education program puts students in the classroom during our freshman year and offers numerous placements for students working toward an early childhood endorsement. I have been able to learn from a number of experienced teachers. I also extended my learning into the summers.
In high school I worked on my lifeguarding certification because I wanted to teach swim lessons. My experience led me to a job as waterfront director and cabin counselor in Wisconsin for two summers during college. I spent most of my time in the youngest girls cabin where we had the girls for 2-6 weeks. It was amazing to see the positive changes we could make with the campers in that amount of time. I often think back to strategies I learned from all the campers when I am working with students in my classrooms. I met my husbant at camp we decided to settle in Milwaukee.
Since coming to Milwaukee, I have worked as in infant teacher at Kohl's corporate headquarters. The most important thing I learned there was how to work cooperatively with parents. From there I moved to La Causa Charter School. I was a long-term substitute in fifth grade and K5 before I was offered a permanent position in another K5 classroom mid-year. I learned to step into a situation with little preparation and help children to thrive.
I am grateful for the many experiences I have been given because they have made me the person and the teacher I am today. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me.