One In A Million: Monica Baird

Name: Monica Baird          


School:
Granada East


Grade:
5/6th Special Education


Support Needed:

Classroom supplies: spiral notebooks, post-it notes, glue sticks, pencils, expo markers, index cards, crayons

One In A Million Feature Questions

How long have you been a teacher?

10 (embarking on 11)  amazing years!

What made you get into the teaching profession?

Feeling unfulfilled in jobs that I was told were the “pinnacle of success” due to pay and growth prospects. I searched for the opportunity that would help me “Do What You Love, and You’ll Never Work Another Day in Your Life”. As this was the quote of the day as I grew up.

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?

This has always been an odd question for me, because I hear constantly “everyone has their it teacher”, unfortunately I do not. My academic years were not particularly memorable. I more remember my summers when I forced my brothers to go to “summer school”? But if I had to choose and an adult, as I embarked on my educational career. I was most inspired by a former teacher turned principal Ms. Sandy Kennedy. Although I did not know her as a teacher. Her leadership and guidance in my early career set the foundation for the teacher I am today.

 What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?

Most notably, the lack of funding. I always find it strange that we (as a state) can be one of the top 10 largest cities in the country and yet have such a struggle with organizing and supporting a stable education system.

How do these issues affect your day to day?

A lack of funding effects every aspect of my life both negatively and positively (I know strange huh?). Negatively because I do not get the things that I need to teach and develop lessons that are both creative and engaging. I have spent thousands of my own dollars buying the things that I need to simply do my job. Positively because necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Realizing this is a challenge for most educators I have be able to establish a small business to combat this challenge.

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?

LOL! You should ask my husband. To offset the hundreds that I spend every year??? Plainly – nothing.

How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different than the reality?

Most people do not know what it takes to be a teacher. I usually share, it is like being a mom on steroids. What does that mean? When you have children; you become a teacher, a caregiver, a doctor, an arbitrator, an event planner, an uber driver… to name only a few of our responsibilities. When you become a teacher; you become all of this and more to four plus sets of octuplets. In addition to all the everyday responsibilities which include being held responsible for each student’s academic growth, interacting with parents that at times expect more from you than they are willing to do themselves and an overall misunderstanding that we are simply just babysitters and not educating/laying the foundation for their future surgeons, politicians and somewhere throughout America our president – just saying.

 Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?

In part because teaching is mistakenly portrayed as a “less than” job. A job you do when you can’t do anything else. So, I believe, many people apply and pursue this career path with a misunderstanding of the demands and expectations.  Yes, we are off during most holidays but we work more than 65 hours a week when we are there. Parent teacher conferences, for me, IEP’s, home visits, planning meetings, grant writing, field trip planning, continued education classes (that I must pay for and attend to keep my license after hours).

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?

A nap! Thankfully as I have said earlier, I have found what I absolutely love to do. So, it does not take much for me to refill when I am running low. A simple conversation with my husband, with my children. Time with my grandchildren laughing with a coworker about an event throughout our day are all simple ways I recharge. For me it doesn’t take much.

What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?

I think simply volunteering. Not in the smallest, best or cutest classroom.  In a classroom of our districts average size. In a classroom with 2/3 challenging students (who will be themselves no matter who visits). Truly understanding their children, their children’s needs and being a supportive partner in their child’s education. Knowing about homework, participating in meetings, attending events (not just field trips). And just simply understanding what we, as educator’s do.

 

 What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

I wish that we as a state begin to understand the value of education and how it can change the landscape of our beautiful state. I wish for an educational system that evolves to meet the needs, wants, desires and passions of the students that it services. That we, as a state, begin to invest in our teachers, students and the infrastructures that will make learning personalized rather than standardized for everyone (teachers and students alike).

That as teachers we are allowed to embrace our creativity and nurture the natural curiosity of our students with an understanding that curiosity is the foundation of innovation. My wish is that in every classroom we are given the opportunity to foster the power of technology in profound and unimaginable ways that will help our students see the connections and relationships between school and the world around them. My wish is that we, as educators, are allowed to cultivate and explore the things our students are passionate about and that those interests include play. As our students grow, play may look different as they get older but play allows our students to experience joy, build self-confidence, release stress and tension and let their imaginations flow limitlessly. Play can keep our student’s minds fine-tuned for learning!

And last, I wish that we, as a state begin to understand that the great thing about learning is that it cannot be confined or held down. That we as teachers should be empowered to build, make, create, code and design just as much as we read, write and teach mathematical practices in our teaching. That fostering a love of learning is one of the greatest things we as teachers can instill upon or students and we as a state can support.

Who do people contact if they want to offer you additional support or where do people send supplies if they want to make a donation to your class?

Any supplies that I receive I plan to donate through my business to other teachers who may need them. So, supplies and offers of support can be emailed to me at info@scholarsdollar.com. Arrangements will be made for pick up of supplies and other offers of support.

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One In A Million: Maria Madrigal

Name: Maria Madrigal

School: Granada Primary

Grade: 3

Support Needed:  Interns, I need people in my classroom helping differentiate with each student or a group of them. I need supplies to keep my students from having to stress about broken pencils and not being able to sharpen because Ms. Madrigal’s sharpener is broken again and I can’t afford to go buy another one.

How long have you been a teacher? 

Almost 9 years

What made you get into the teaching profession?

I have a drawing from kindergarten that says “Teacher” and I wanted to be a teacher since, that has been my passion.

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
Ms. Barragan, she was my kindergarten and my third-grade teacher. I just remember all of the fun activities we did in class, we would perform for our parents and we would do all these cultural activities, it was fun. My parents would always talk to her and my parents loved her.  I emailed her a few years ago and I think of her all the time.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
First, Respect. There is so much going on in this world that people say we are glorified babysitters, sometimes I wish I was. I would make so much money and I wouldn’t have to do partially anything compared to what I do now.  I wish parents would respect teachers and realize that WE (teachers and parents) need each other to help the child be successful, most parents see it as the teacher’s fault or they just truly don’t care.

 

Second Funds to support us with staff and materials. We can’t support more than 30 students on a daily basis without materials.  There are points in my teaching career in which I would teach 90 students within 2 hours and trust me sharing materials with all of them, was not easy.  Managing over 30 students at a time and expecting me to truly make a difference, it’s a struggle.

 

Third, Salary.  I have known people that leave the profession since they can’t afford to have a family.  It is easier for me not to have children, because of this career I rather not have biological children, I already have over 30 on a daily basis.

How do these issues affect your day to day?
It’s a daily battle and the fact that I have been doing it for so long, it’s become routine. My first few years I wanted to quit so bad, but I had to persevere for my students.  There were days were I would just cry after work, and now I rarely cry. I think,… I know teachers are survivors, we become more wise with experience, more flexible and we just keep on teaching with our struggles, it’s in our hearts to help others.

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?
It means I can claim only part of what I buy, but I will take what I can get. Sadly enough, I will do whatever it takes for my students to succeed, there has been years where I don’t buy new clothes for myself or save up for a trip because I spend that money on my students and if not thinking of my current kiddos, I am planning for my future students.  I have bought clothes for my students or snacks for them to take home for the weekend when I know they will probably go hungry.

How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different than the reality?
People have no idea of everything that teachers do, they see it as something so simple as you are told what to teach or everything is already made for us.  This doesn’t compare, it is hard work, each year you are redoing lessons due to standards and objects and pacing guides and classes changing. Managing your class changes every year due to the class as well, differentiation is key and we are constantly making decisions, every second of the day from 7:00-3:00 it’s nonstop making decisions. There are days it’s difficult to shut off your brain.

Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
People are not told the truth about teaching, you are not told that you won’t have time to plan out lesson plans during the school day, they don’t tell you that you are lucky if you get 20 minutes to eat, they don’t tell you that parents don’t support you nor the child at home, they don’t tell you that most of the time you will be dealing with behavior and there is more likely no support. They don’t tell you that not only will you not have time to create lessons plans, but that you are to find your own sources if your district hasn’t adopted a program to use or that you need to make your copies at one point more than likely before school or after school.  At the end of the day, 3:00, you are drained, you think about what they did academically, what they struggled, if there was a personal thing they told you, if there was a behavior issue, what you have to teach tomorrow, what you got to grade, what you need to copy, who you need to call and who you have to email… There is so much to do, that is why people get burnt out, there is no assistant and the class sizes are over 30 students.

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?
The kids smile, our laughing moments, that student sharing their answer because they got it right and they never get it right. Sometimes I think of Ms. Barragan or my parents or that moment when I graduated and knew I had accomplished so much. I think of my troubled student being good now.

What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?
I want parents to truly… just give time to your child, have them read to you, help them in their homework. Another way is to come to parent classes; our district and school provides that happen to be FREE.  If teachers have a communication tool, sign up so you know the latest updates. If a teacher calls, then call them back. I just want you to help me help your child.

 

Another way is to donate the most commonly supplies that run out:  pencils, erasers, tissues, expo-markers, sharpeners, and hand-sanitizers. Also reading chapter books or stickers or even prizes from the dollar store for the treasure box to use as incentives. It is important to celebrate student achievements.

 

Also just a thank you from a parent goes along way, I don’t need gifts or gift cards even though the surprise is a wonderful gesture.  I just want to feel appreciated especially when it feels like the government, the people, the parents won’t support you teaching the future of this country.
What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

I just want students to want to learn, to read on their own, to find that passion of what they like and what they want to be when they grow up.  I want students to have a safe environment in which they don’t have to worry about food or being bullied or not having materials, they should have the same equal education as the richest students in the world. Where students live should not impact their success level in life.

Who do people contact if they want to offer you additional support or where do people send supplies if they want to make a donation to your class?

Maria Madrigal

3232 West Campbell Avenue

Phoenix, AZ 85017

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One In A Million: Holly Purtell

Name: Holly Purtell

School: Maryvale High School

Grade: Senior English

We received over 900 votes in our first ever Feel Like a Million Dollars event that we hosted on May 22nd for Maryvale High School.   Both the faculty and the students voted on who they felt deserved to feel like a million dollars and you won!  How does that feel?

Receiving the One in a Million Teacher Recognition is surreal. I am still in disbelief. I feel honored and yet at the same time, I feel unworthy because I work with so many amazing educators at Maryvale High School. 

What was the first prize you used out of the prize package you received?

I haven’t used any of the prizes from my prize package. Right now, it’s acting as a beautiful centerpiece on my dining room table. I am looking forward to using the Diamondbacks baseball tickets and the Botanical Garden Membership.

How long have you been a teacher?
I have been teaching for 23 years.

What made you get into the teaching profession?
I live to teach. I love to help students. On the weekends and summers, I’m bored and have to put myself to work. I donate a lot of my free time. I was born to teach.

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
My most inspirational high school teacher was my Sociology teacher, Mr. Baily. He taught us to think critically. We would have discussions the entire class period. He was amazing.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
Arizona teachers are facing a combination of challenges. One, college tuition as increased dramatically, and two, teacher salaries have not. I wish someone would focus on making college more affordable if not free for teachers. In general, I wish there could be more programs for Arizona’s teachers like affordable housing, education, etc.

How do these issues affect your day to day?
Living from paycheck to paycheck takes a psychological toll. This also causes many of my colleagues to leave the profession or to seek better teaching positions out of the country.  It is sad to see so many of my friends leave one way or the other.

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?
I utilize my $250 tax credit to purchase materials for my “Book Boutique.” That is my in-class library, work space, and chill area for students.

How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different than the reality?
Teaching theory vs. teaching in practice are two different worlds. Oftentimes, you cannot predict what concepts students will find challenging. Just because a concept makes sense to me does not mean students will find it equally accessible. Teachers have to modify and adjust as we teach and analyze student work for evidence of understanding. Re-teaching is as important as teaching.

Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
Teachers are usually nice people, who don’t like to disappoint people. Usually they need to learn to say “no” more and to recognize when they are over-committed. Others burn out because the realize they cannot support their family on a teacher’s salary.

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?

I love collaborating with other educators. Telling stories and laughing ourselves silly re-energizes me.

What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?

When parents support what’s best for their students, then they are supporting me. Parents and I are on the same side. We both want what’s best for their kids. So, help to get them to school on time, check their grades through parent portal, ensure students have access to online tools.
What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

I wish for Arizona students to be competitive in the U.S. and even the world job market.

 What additional support  or supplies do you need in your classroom and who do people contact if they want to help out?

What Arizona students need to be most competitive is access to the internet, online tools, and learning materials. Some students are experts with accessing and learning from places like Khan Academy online tutorials. Some students have never heard of it before and do not have any online access. Arizona is rich in culture and viewpoints. It would be a shame if we could not share our unique excellence because socioeconomic challenges inhibit our progress.

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