As the new school year approaches, newly retired teachers reflect on their careers, while newly hired teachers anticipate leading their first classrooms.
It’s a career choice that is said to be one of the most challenging and rewarding. Teachers are an enormous influence in the lives of children.
Author Nicholas Sparks once said, “They inspire you, they entertain you, and you end up learning a ton even when you don’t know it.”
As the new school year quickly approaches, The Repository asked three newly hired teachers about their expectations and hopes for their future careers.
We then asked three recently retired teachers to reflect on their careers and offer advice to those just starting out.
Here are there emailed responses.
DANNY GENETIN, 23
Where and what grades/ subjects will you be teaching? fifth-grade math and science at Pfeiffer Intermediate (Perry Local.)
Why did you want to become a teacher? I have been inspired by many great teachers and coaches. They not only impacted my life, but the lives of many others. These teachers/coaches taught me life lessons and were instrumental role models in my life. I want to do the same thing and I want to impact the lives of many students. I believe in many values that many overlook such as hard work, integrity, perseverance, and discipline. Students, more than ever, need someone who can guide them in the right direction and teach these values. In today’s world these values are not talked about or used, but need to be taught more than ever to help America’s next generation.
As the new school year approaches, what are your expectations? First: Do not become overwhelmed with everything that will be thrown at me, since it is my first year. Second: Give my best as a teacher every day from teaching the content to mentoring my students. By giving my best effort I will model for students what effort they should be giving. I expect my students to give their best effort. It does not take talent or knowledge to give good effort.
What aspect of the new year makes you most anxious? I am a little apprehensive about the first day of school. Being a new teacher, in a new environment, has me a little nervous, but after a couple of weeks I think I will feel a lot more relaxed and in my comfort zone, that is until I have to do all the paperwork for being a first-year teacher.
What are your plans for your classroom? I want my classroom to be an outgoing class. I think structure is important, but at the same time students need to feel relaxed and have a good time. I love joking around and I want my students to feel at ease to joke around with me, too. I want them to know when they come to my classroom they are going to have a fun time because my class we will be using 21st century skills, kinesthetic, and hands-on activities for learning.
Page 2 of 5 - How do you think teaching has changed from when you were a student? Teaching has changed drastically from when I was in school. Technology was at a minimum until I was in high school. Smart Boards started to become popular at the end of high school. The days of note-taking and lecturing are slowly decreasing. Students in today’s generation do not have attention rate compared to the generation decades ago. Today’s youth are so used to having something right at their fingertips and only keep interest for short periods of time. This generation needs to be taught differently using 21st century learning material that relates to them.
JULIA MOKROS, 38
Where and what grades/ subjects will you be teaching? Seventh grade as an intervention specialist for the College and Career Readiness Academy (C2RA) at Lehman Middle School in Canton City.
Why did you want to become a teacher? I first decided to become a teacher while working at a residential facility for teenage youth. In this position, I was able to assist counselors with group therapy sessions and support teachers in the classroom. It was this experience that helped to shape my passion for teaching. I felt that I could make the greatest contribution in the classroom, where I would be able to support student learning and build relationships on a daily basis.
As the new school year approaches, what are your expectations? I am enthusiastic and optimistic about the new school year. Not only do I have the opportunity to work in a wonderful school district, I feel fortunate to be a new team member as Canton City rolls out the Brighter Tomorrow Plan.
What aspect of the new year makes you most anxious? I am most anxious to begin my new career, implement newly learned strategies, and make a positive impact on the students.
What are your plans for your classroom? My plans for my classroom are filled with patience, understanding, teamwork, flexibility and compromise. I also find it extremely important to build relationships with students, parents and other educators to ensure consistent expectations and a supportive environment.
How do you think teaching has changed from when you were a student? Computers and the Internet did not exist, especially access from hand-held devices. Virtually all of the information we need is online and available anytime we want it. When I was in school, I had to go to the library and look up books in the card catalog. Today, we can search for a book, where to purchase it, buy it online, and read it electronically. We can also find lots of additional information about any subject from almost anywhere. The Internet has become a valuable learning tool in the classroom.
Has technology made teachers’ jobs easier or more challenging? Technology has made teachers' jobs easier for a number of reasons. Teachers have online grading systems for immediate evaluation of student attendance and performance in all subject areas. In addition, technology allows for easier communication between students, parents, teachers, and administrators in the form of online newsletters, school websites, email, social networks, group text messaging, and password protected systems to view student progress. Last, but not least, technology devices give teachers endless possibilities to differentiate instruction and maximize student performance.
Page 3 of 5 - KAREN DEBALDO, 22
Where and what grades/ subjects will you be teaching? German levels 1-5 (advanced placement) and grades 8-12 at Hoover High School.
Why did you want to become a teacher? My high school German teacher, as well as my passion for the German language and culture, inspired me to become a teacher. My teacher took the extra effort to show her students that she cared about us and respected where we came from, which made us more eager to learn.
As the new school year approaches, what are your expectations? As the school year approaches, I expect that I will have caring, supportive colleagues to teach with and a spirited, involved community to represent. I am also looking forward to getting to know parents and families.
What aspect of the new year makes you most anxious? I am most anxious about fitting in all of the exciting lessons and activities that I envision with the curriculum. I have a lot of ideas but I am not sure I can do all of them in one school year!
What are your plans for your classroom? I plan to use a lot of authentic material in my classroom in both decorating it and in lesson planning. The resources available today for world language teachers are incredible. Anything that makes German more accessible to students is a fantastic asset, whether it is through authentic magazines, newspapers, literature, music or film. I also plan to create a classroom environment that appeals to diverse learners.
How do you think teaching has changed from when you were a student? I think teaching has changed mostly with regard to teacher accountability for student success. Every day, we are brainstorming new strategies to reach out to more students where they are and to empower them for lifelong learning, which is a great thing.
Has technology made teachers’ jobs easier or more challenging? Technology in the classroom is a paradox of sorts. On one hand, technology makes education more fulfilling and engaging, especially in world language learning with technology like Skype, Google Earth, and new avatar programs that allow students to simulate real experiences and use their skills in a practical setting. On the other hand, technology is never fully reliable, so preparing for all possibilities in the classroom is a necessity. I would not say technology has made teaching easier, but the results that technology in the classroom produces always makes it worth it.
How many years did you teach, and where? Canton City Schools for 30 years.
Why did you become a teacher? I’ve never had a good answer to this question. I don’t ever remember making a conscious decision to become a teacher. I’ve always enjoyed being with children, so I was probably naturally drawn to the profession.
Page 4 of 5 - As the new school year approaches, what are your thoughts? I am just excited to march into this next phase of my life, so I’m not really thinking in terms of the next school year. There are so many things I want to do, so many subjects to study, and so many avenues to explore. I know I want to be of service in some capacity, and I suspect I’m not finished working with children. I also know I feel driven to fill a NEED not necessarily a “position” in the community.
What will you miss most about teaching? The laughter, the hugs, the daily surprises and the total ‘humanness’ of working with young people.
What will you not miss at all? The stress of constantly feeling like I’m battling the clock and juggling schedules.
What advice would you offer first-year teachers?
1. TAKE YOUR TIME! At the beginning of the year, you will be hit with a sense of urgency to start right away with curriculum and to start striving for test scores. Instead, take the time to establish the 3Rs — rapport, rules, and routines! This may take a few days, or even longer, but the time you invest up front will be well worth it.
2. This will sound strange, but if you DON’T LOVE IT, LEAVE IT! Give yourself a chance to gain some skill and experience, but if you feel like you are fighting a battle to go to school each day, then you may need to explore other career options. The students only get one chance at their education. They deserve teachers with passion, dedication, and a love for what they do.
3. The two most exciting days of the year for our family were Christmas and the first day of summer break. Freeze some of your favorite Christmas cookies. Take them out and have them for breakfast on the first day of summer break.
4. Teaching is a LIFESTYLE, not a job, or even simply a profession. Be prepared for it to take over your house, your wallet, your way of speaking, your grocery cart, your evenings and weekends, and even your wardrobe.
What’s your most embarrassing memory? Accidentally flipping off my principal in a meeting. I was counting backwards on my fingers from two to one. I left the wrong finger up when I got to one!
What is most different about teaching now, than when you first started? The use of technology in the classroom has changed immensely. When I first started teaching, there were only two machines I had to master: The ditto machine and the reel projector.
Something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your career: See #4 under advice.
Page 5 of 5 - How many years did you teach and where? 35 years at Perry High School.
Why did you become a teacher? It’s the gift that God gave me.
As the new school year approaches, what are your thoughts? I wonder how much I’ll miss it (I just retired).
What will you miss most about teaching? The connection with my students.
What will you not miss at all? Misguided ideas of what makes for good instruction.
What advice would you offer first-year teachers? Work your students. Most will eventually appreciate it.
What is your fondest memory? Seeing students perform beyond what they believed was their potential.
What is most different about teaching now, than when you first started? The drive towards more accountability.
Something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your career: The importance of the teaching profession. Good teachers are invaluable.
How many years did you teach and where? 30 years (four at St. Clement’s; six at Watson Elementary in Perry; 19 at Greentown and one at Northwood Elementary School in North Canton.
Why did you become a teacher? I became a teacher for the love of kids!
As the new school year approaches ... It was always a time of anticipation; I was probably as excited to meet my new class, as my first graders were to get to know me. I don’t think I ever got a good night’s sleep before the first day.
What will you miss most about teaching? I will miss seeing my past students and their parents as well as my teaching friends.
What will you not miss at all? I will not miss being the first and last car in the school parking lot!
What advice would you offer first-year teachers? You’ll put so much work and time into preparation and planning, but in the end, the kids will remember most how you made them feel.
What’s your most embarrassing memory? Parents’ Night was our chance to introduce ourselves and give our students’ parents a glimpse of what to expect. It was a hot evening, no air-conditioning, and I was feeling a bit nervous. As I was speaking, I happened to notice that my “pits” were wet partway down the side of my blouse! I immediately tried to keep my arms tightly against my sides, hoping that at least the parents toward the back hadn’t seen!
How teaching has changed from when you first started? That technology exists!
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