Teachers

MDTP launches #Continuethelearning Campaign to assist during COVID-19 Crisis

Hello,

As our state wrestles with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, to keep families safe, schools campuses have been closed down for the remainder of the school year and districts are now moving towards virtual or distance learning to deliver instruction to kids.   It has been incredible to see the resilience of our educators to adapt and, I think now, more than ever, families are reminded of the importance teachers play in our daily lives!  Even though moving classrooms online is a great approach to keep students engaged, it has exposed a huge gap that still exists in the pursuit of every student receiving an equitable education.

In many Title I School Districts, as much as 65%  of their students can still lack access to the internet and devices they need to participate in virtual classrooms.  As we all work diligently to properly manage the current crisis in our state, another one looms if we can not keep kids connected.  As a response we have created an initiative named ‘Title I Tech’ to assist Title I districts with getting their students what they need to keep learning.  This is where we need your help.

Through our partnership with Mathew Blades of the Mix 969 morning show, Mathew & Priscilla, we have committed $15,000 at Target for the purchase of devices (laptops, tablets, etc) to immediately get these things in kids hands, but we need more so we can do more.  So, we have launched the #Continuethelearning campaign with a goal of raising an additional $25,000.  This will not only enable us to get students the devices they need but also assist with internet connections and any other needs that might arise around this area.  We are contacting you today in hopes that you can make a donation towards helping us reach our goal.  No amount is too big or small and as a community we can overcome any challenge.   So, we hope we can count on you for a contribution TODAY.   To learn more about the campaign, donate or apply for help please click here.

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One In A Million – Celia Sanabria-Aguilar

One In A Million Feature 

Name:Celia Sanabria-Aguilar

School:Madison Meadows

Grade: 7th/8th Grade

How long have you been a teacher?

13 years

What made you get into the teaching profession?

Ever since I was little I loved playing school. In high school I had a few teachers who inspired me to follow their footsteps and become a teacher.

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?

Two of the most inspirational educators in my life have been my Spanish Teacher and my soccer coach. My Spanish teacher inspired me to love my culture, my identity and my roots. My soccer coach inspired me to care for everyone and to always strive to be my best.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
In the three years I’ve been teaching in Arizona, our biggest challenge is class size and lack of resources/funding. There’s a lack of resources to provide services to students who need not only academic but social emotional support. Lack of funding also affects the amount of teachers that are hired therefore the teachers that are in the classroom have 30+ students per class.

How do these issues affect your day to day?
Large classes make it difficult for teachers to address every student’s individual needs. Those students who need extra support, find themselves in classes with classmates who are far ahead. This academic gap brings disruption and distractions to the classroom and interferes with everyone’s learning environment. There’s no placement for students who can benefit from additional academic and or social/emotional support to help them succeed as individuals in this competitive society.

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?
The tax deduction helps but it’s a low amount. Teachers often spend more than that on school supplies.

Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
I believe workload, student behavior and having to constantly redirect students with no follow-up at home, and keeping up with all the expectations from administration and district officials with little support can be a turning point for many teachers who once loved the profession and the many variables that are out of our control turned them away.

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

Every day in the classroom is a new day, what keeps me going are the students who show eagerness to learn. Their energy is contagious and that is what motivates me to keep going.

What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?
Parent support is everything at least in my opinion. When I feel supported by the parents then there’s this sense of responsibility to doing my job with a community backing me up rather than feeling like I’m working solo.

What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

I moved here from Chicago, and one thing I can say is that children are children regardless of location. I wish Arizona’s children had the right resources to see them thrive and be successful regardless of their background, struggles or experiences.

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

I would love to have cultural games in my classroom that reflect the Latino culture. They can either contact me or the school’s Director of signature programs Casey George.

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One In A Million: Sebastian Payton

One In A Million Feature Questions

Name: Sebastian Payton

School: Frank Borman Elementary

Grade: Middle School Science

 How long have you been a teacher? 22 years

What made you get into the teaching profession?

I was originally an engineering major, for my first 2 years of college. I had a moment of clarity when one of my teammates thanked me for achieving his highest grade in a math class. I realized how much I enjoyed his success. At the end of that year, I changed my major education and began my journey.

Initially, I would say that I became a teacher to help students. But once I stepped into a classroom I realized that I was changing and saving lives.

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?

Honestly, my most inspirational teachers was one of the many negative experiences that I had. My 5th grade teacher, who will remain nameless, gave me the “Most Yelled at in One Year” award. She called me up to the front of the room, set me up as if it was going to be positive and gave it to me. She also said, in front of the class, that I was going to end up in jail. I still have that certificate, as a reminder of the impact that a teacher can have on a student.

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

There are everal issues facing educators: kinder entrance ages being lowered, class sizes are still too large and the public perception of education.

Overall, teachers are being asked to do more for students while being given less resources. We have less time to teach more standards. We have more students in a classroom and Americans have little to no faith in the institution of education. With all that said, teachers are trying to finance advanced degrees to move up the pay scale, only to find out that their advancement falls short of their financial needs. They are forced into administrative positions, which takes most of our best teachers out of the classroom.

How do these issues affect your day to day?

They don’t. I take one child at a time, one day at a time, one lesson at a time! I trained myself to know the content well enough to teach without a textbook if necessary or technology. I have adapted my approach to accommodate a large number of students. Finally, I shaped my lifestyle around my pay, so that will hopefully never be ‘forced’ to take a position that I don’t want.

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

I wasn’t aware that there was one.

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

Most teachers are trained to apply their knowledge as opposed to analyzing and evaluating the students needs. Most of the new teachers, last 5 years, require technology to execute a lesson; tablets, internet access, apps. They seem to come with strategies that are targeted for a certain skill level and socioeconomic group. When they are required to adapt, they are either unwilling or unable to do so. It seems that teacher training should require a methodology that will give teachers to assess the type of learner as opposed to the level of the learner. In my opinion, the most effective teachers are those that understand their audience and their content.
Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?

Lack of managerial support, too many administrative tasks and an unprofessional work environment. The amount of progress monitoring, assessing, agreements, trainings and tasks that are not directly to classroom instruction is overwhelming for most, in my experience. We have become accountants and that is a direct result of public opinion. We have to validate and substantiate every moment and lesson that takes place during our work day. I believe that this is an effort to justify our positions and our salaries. Given the other employment and financial options that are available, many opt for paths with less resistance.

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

God, my upbringing and the kids youthful, innocent and unyielding naivety. I immerse myself in the students and community because they have an endless amount of needs. That need fuels me. Knowing that my skill set has value motivates me to perform at a high level. So, as a servant, I am replenished by my desire to serve; there is a higher purpose for me that transcends stress or pressure.

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

Honestly, it’s not something I’ve given much thought to. The fact of the matter is I’m not looking for gratitude from them. I would prefer that my employer show gratitude through salary and benefits.

What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

I would like to see less testing at the school and district level, in favor of programs, projects and rich experiences, so that will dream bigger dreams. I would like to see a stronger STEAM emphasis. I would also like to see a stronger corporate and academic (college) presence in public schools.

 

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

I would like to offer tangible incentives to my students for their academic efforts, like gift cards, tickets to museums and other empowering opportunities.

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One In a Million: Emily Zelazny

One In A Million Feature: January 2020

Name: Emily Zelazny

School: Dos Rios Elementary

Grade: 4

 How long have you been a teacher?
This is my first year teaching!

What made you get into the teaching profession?
Although I went to school for teaching, I was unsure I wanted to be an educator until last spring when I student taught in a fourth grade class. Every morning, I would go around the room and play games with the students before class began. Initially, this was a way for me to feel more comfortable in the classroom as it was a new experience for me and I was nervous to teach in front of twenty-five kids, but as weeks passed, I suddenly learned that I was creating bonds with the students without even trying. I found myself caring for students and worrying about them and exhibiting all sorts of emotions that I didn’t know would accompany the profession, all because I created strong relationships with the students. There was one student in particular who had a lasting impact on myself. He had some trouble controlling his emotions, maintaining friendships, and doing what was expected in class. He and I ended up eating lunch together, playing at recess, and having wonderfully in depth conversations about Minecraft. By the end of my semester, he seemed like a whole new student. He was following class expectations and had a strong group of friends. It was hard to say goodbye when my time was over, as I had not realized what an impact the students have on the teacher. It is a feeling like no other, to know that you helped a child not only academically, but also emotionally. Luckily, this past fall break I went back to Missoula and visited Russell Elementary. I received the biggest hug from this particular (now) fifth grader. I knew after student teaching that this was the career path for me. I swear, your heart grows one hundred times its size when you are a teacher!

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
Before I moved to Arizona, I student taught in Missoula, Montana at Russell Elementary. I was incredibly fortunate to be the student teacher of Sandy Whatman, a fellow fourth grade educator. I cannot express into words the impact that she had on me. What was the most inspiring, was that she built a solid relationship with each and every one of her students. She took the time to know the ins-and-outs in each of their lives. It built an atmosphere of trust and respect. I would watch her have full length discussions with students about novels meant for fourth graders, because she took the time to read a book suggested by a student in her class. She would stock a fridge in her room with snacks for the students who didn’t have food at home. The students cared for her so greatly that they wanted to succeed. What was even more beautiful was watching her reaction to students who struggled academically demonstrate success in her classroom. She was absolutely ecstatic whenever a student read a word they couldn’t read months ago, or answer a math problem when a week ago they couldn’t subtract. There were some students who came from tough backgrounds and may not have had support or encouragement at home, but Mrs. Whatman made up for it. She found a way to make sure each one of her students felt acknowledged, safe, respected, and successful in her room. I am so grateful to have taught beside her as everything she showed me, I have taken into my own classroom.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
Although this is my first year teaching, I believe there is one challenge in particular that is difficult to ignore. It is no question that Arizona educators do not enter the career for the money, but the salaries are quite slim that it is difficult to pay for day to day necessities sometimes. Teachers wake up at 5:00am to be at school by 6:00, and sometimes do not leave until 6:00pm that night. For the work and long hours that teachers put in every single day, it can be discouraging to be paid so little, especially for those teachers that have families to care for in addition to themselves. Since a bachelor’s degree is required for this profession I believe that teachers need to be compensated and valued properly for the amount of time and effort they put into their jobs.

How do these issues affect your day to day?
My roommate and I are both first year teachers, and we moved across the country for our jobs. The initial move was a financial hit on its own, but now we have had months where we are cutting it very close when paying rent, student loans, groceries, and necessities for our pets. It can be a strong source of anxiety. I see so many things I want to do in my classroom as well, but it can be too costly as I buy most of my supplies. The students are the most important and they deserve to have exciting science experiments and social studies projects, but it is too expensive for me to purchase those items for them. I think if teachers were compensated more appropriately it would ultimately enhance the students’ experiences in the classroom due to the ability to purchase items needed to create memorable lessons.

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?
It assists with the costs needed to have a functioning classroom. As a teacher you are sometimes buying supplies for individual students who don’t have their own, it’s very costly all in all, especially as a first year when I have had to purchase so many items. However, the $250 tax reduction definitely helps.

How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different than the reality?
A teacher’s day does not end when the bell rings. Hours extend late into the evenings and even on through the weekends. After school there is professional development training, entering grades, communicating with parents, lesson planning, teaching after school programs…the list goes on. It is an incredibly exhausting profession that there are days where a 6:00pm bedtime is ideal. In addition to the long hours, the amount of money spent on purchasing supplies is incredibly costly. Schools are usually pretty great at providing simple items, but they do not have the funds to provide unlimited supplies to each classroom. I have spent my own money on copies when the copier machine breaks down at school, paper, pencils and so on. The most expensive but valuable items in my class are books. The students love and want to read. I have had numerous trips to goodwill, used bookstores, and garage sales to create my little class library, but even with secondhand books, supplying your students with content to read is very expensive.

Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
From an outside perspective, it is easy to look at a teacher, and recognize that what they do is, teach. However, being a teacher means that you wear so many different hats. Teachers are performers, life coaches, role models, providers, and so much more. You are not just a teacher; you are someone for a child to confide in when they have difficulty with friends or at home. You are a listener, because every child’s story they tell you is important! It does not matter if they are telling you about what they had for dinner last night or about the dog they saw on the way to school. They are excited to share something with you and it is your job to listen and CARE! You are also someone in the classroom who must identify what makes a child exhibit a negative behavior and how you can help that child find coping mechanisms when they start to feel like they might act out. Sometimes this can be something a teacher does weekly, daily, or by the hour! A teacher’s job does not end when they leave at 5:00 or 6:00 either, once they are home it can be grading or even lesson planning through the evenings and weekends. All of this is in addition to the pressures that administration expects of them, too. A teacher carries so much on their shoulders that for the little they are compensated, sometimes it can just be too much, and unfortunately, they burn out.

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?
I love seeing my students succeed. I have learned so much about them, and to see what they have achieved despite their circumstances is absolutely aw-inspiring. Just last month I watched one of my students write a paragraph, when months before they were unable to spell a single word. It is moments like that which make it all worth it.

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

Just saying thank you is enough, however, I don’t know a single teacher that would ever say no to teacher appreciation discounts at shops or restaurants. J

What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

I wish that every child in Arizona knows that they have the ability to be successful. There is always a teacher there who believes in them, is there to support them, and knows that they can succeed no matter what.

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

-Electric Pencil Sharpener

-Books (My class loves graphic novels like Dogman)

-Copy Paper (never enough)

-Loose Leaf Paper

-Tissues

-Expo Markers

-Pencils

-Meter Stick

-Rulers

-Colored Pencils

Contact Nicole Lozano, Office Manager at Dos Rios Elementary (623)-474-7000

 

 

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One In a Million: Kristina Lopez

One In A Million Feature Questions

December 2019

Name: Kristina Lopez

School: Synergy Public School

Grade: 4th 

How long have you been a teacher?
I have been teaching now for three years. This is my third consecutive year of teaching 4th grade. 

What made you get into the teaching profession?
I wanted to become a teacher since I was very young. It has always been a dream and passion of mine to work with and teach children.

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
My most inspirational teacher was my third grade teacher, Ms. Whitfield. She always had such a bubbly and positive personality towards her students and always made us feel special. She taught us core values, how to treat on another, and to be empathetic. I have always remembered the golden rule because of her; treat others the way you want to be treated!

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
Some of the biggest challenges teachers face currently in Arizona are proper funding for the school, limited resources and proper compensation. 

How do these issues affect your day to day?
These issues affect the day to day learning by making it more difficult for students to have access to all the technology, tools, and resources to help and enrich their learning. Also, it calls for proper planning, thinking ahead, and finding supplemental resources to use. 

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

The $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers means that there is more access to extra supplies that can be utilized in the classroom for a portion of the school year. 

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

The expectations of becoming a teacher are different from the reality by there being more work to do on your own time than what is actually achievable within a work day. There is also a lot more paperwork and planning to do behind the scenes. There is also a lot to juggle between work and personal duties, but at the end of the day, it all gets done!

Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
I think teachers burn out so quickly because of the amount of tasks a teacher has to fulfill within a day, week, and month. Every task varies, but it is a continual process of monitoring, assessing, and readjusting to fulfill all the needs of each student. 

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?
Whenever I am running on empty, I can “fill my cup” by taking a step back to see how much growth and success my students have achieved within the time we have been together. I also look back at my past class photos and remember all the wonderful memories and successes my past students have made. I look forward to what is to come for them in their future, and know I am making a difference in the lives of the students I have now.

What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?
Some ways that our parents and community can show gratitude are by donating supplies, volunteering their time, and being involved in the children’s education and school events that we host on campus.


What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

My wish for Arizona’s children is that every child has the opportunities and resources for higher quality education.

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

Other additional supplies that would be useful in the classroom are storage solutions, science kits, and more access to technological resources (SmartBoard for instance). Supplies that we tend to run out of quickly are pencils, tissues, and hand sanitizer. If people wanted to help out we have our front office accessible to help answer questions or find spots for volunteers.

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One in a Million: Jonathan Uko

 

One In A Million: Jonathan Uko

 

School: Champion Schools – South Mountain
Grade: 5th Grade, Math and Science

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One in a Million: Edee Sands

 

Name: Edee Sands

School: R.E. Simpson School

Grade: 6-8 ART/ EL

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One in a Million: Tori Danielle Thompson

Name: Tori Danielle Thompson                      

School: R. E. Simpson School             

Grade: 5th-8thMusic/Band

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One in a Million: Aran Kelly

One In A Million Feature Questions

Name: Aran Kelly

School: Alhambra High School

Grade:  9-12

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One in a Million: Debbie Kunes

Name: Debbie Kunes
School: Phoenix Coding Academy
Grade: 9 & 11

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