Having spent twenty years with little more than words and some ingenuity to influence judges and juries that my cause was correct, I have come to appreciate the punch of the English language and the importance of word choice and diction. While working my way through college, I took a job in a supermarket as a cashier to pay off a phone bill that I was too embarrassed (and too eager to prove my independence) to bring to my parents. Just as cream rises to the top, so too do responsible employees in the retail business; within three years, I had been promoted several times and was appointed store manager at the Harvard Street (Allston, MA) location. Within another two years, I was promoted to District Store Manager, and was given the responsibility of overseeing 17 stores. In developing my skills in management, I found that my store always had an abundance of employees, despite very low unemployment rates; other stores were desperate for employees. I, on the other hand, had help because I developed my employees, trained them well, and ran English classes in the basement for my immigrant employees (mostly Vietnamese), who I taught enough English so they would be able to interact appropriately with customers and count change. I would not have been so successful without my teaching abilities and belief in the importance of education and training. As a student, I came to appreciate the work that went into being a teacher, and I respected them for that which they instilled in me. In choosing my path, I set my course toward a career in education.
However, after hearing from three well-respected professors, I veered off my track, went to law school, and became an attorney. I was able to reconcile the deviation, however, because I was still “teaching”, although in this regard to judges, clients, employees, and juries. Like high schoolers, my “students” did not always agree with me, however. In addition, while there are numerous opportunities to use creativity in the practice of law, I recall with some fondness one judge in particular, who would often talk at bar meetings and speeches that I could “tell a great story”. In reality, however, all he wanted was “just the facts, Counselor”. Nevertheless, as I helped my children navigate their way through school, (they are now seventeen year old juniors in high school, twins), I felt like I too should be buying a new back pack, sharpening my pencils, and preparing for a new school year every September. Something was missing, and I found myself drawn to education…still. I enrolled at Southern New Hampshire University, and obtained a Master’s degree in Secondary English Education in May of 2012. By this act, I was correcting the wrong I had committed in setting my path. While I enjoyed my work as a lawyer, and I enjoyed teaching employees, adults, judges, and juries, I also felt a void in not paying attention to the voice inside me when I was in college, studying English and setting my sights as an educator. I was a good litigator and a successful lawyer; I am a teacher at heart, however.
As an educator, I understand my role to be to teach strategies, rather than literature. That is, we will develop the essential questions and analyze works in order to gain approaches that may be used across the content areas and in life. In so doing, my hope is to develop the passion for language in the upcoming generation by experiencing literature and writing. My emphasis is to completely exhume the story, and help students to immerse themselves in the language, internalize the underlying message, and incorporate the concepts into their own writing and lives. As such, while I am somewhat of an essentialist in my initial approach, I also use methods that are relevant to the students, so that they can stretch themselves to new heights and higher levels of analysis and synthesis; my ultimate goal is to teach a high level of literacy so that my students may pay their knowledge forward, and give value by applying what they learn in their own lives to improve the social condition. My passion shines through everything we do in the classroom; the expectation is that it will infuse a level of excitement in the students.
Just as I applied myself in the practice of law, I will use everything available to me and seek new ways of understanding so as to be able to reach and stay relevant with the diversity of my students. I design my classroom and lessons so that the students will be able to interpret the material in the way that works best for them. The curriculum is based on the core level standards as required, but the goal will be to encompass more, and to reach higher levels of comprehension and mastery that will be applicable to other classrooms and subjects. Students will have the confidence and skills to read, comprehend, and write, so that their success will be assured. By creating a kind and supportive environment, my students are certain that they will be accepted, complete with all their foibles, and that their answers, right or wrong, are appreciated so long as they put forth the requisite verve to succeed. Creativity is rewarded, and the assessments are competency based. I make clear my expectations and impart the desire, confidence, and trust to triumph over their real or perceived shortcomings. I appreciate the absolute necessity for students to know and understand the subject of English and the long-lasting effects a good solid English education will have on their lives. My ultimate obsession is to guide the students with full integrity and compassion, in life, as well as in English/Language Arts, as these years will follow them for the remainder of their lives: how exciting!
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