Posted in education, kids, making a difference, physical education, teaching, Uncategorized

Who inspired you?


November 16, 2017, I was honored to receive the “Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year” award. This allowed me time to reflect on how I got to this point in my career. We all got to our place in our careers because of hard work, collaboration, inspiration and talent.

Who inspired you?

I was fortunate to have great educators growing up. These educators filled my brain with knowledge that I was able to take with me everywhere I go! I knew in high school that I wanted to be a Physical Educator. I had great coaches and PE teachers and I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.

My Physical Education teacher in high school was Ms. Kelli Courtois. I will never forget her, as she was my role model and person I aspired to be. She was that PE teacher that everyone loved! She made class fun, was playful with us and had a nurturing and caring side to her. These are traits that I carry into the classes that I teach. My first rule is “Have fun”– if my kids aren’t having fun, then learning most likely isn’t happening. When the environment is fun, learning is seamless. I am very playful with my kids. I teach middle school and in my opinion– the best age group! This age group allows me to be myself, have fun with the kids and play with them. Lastly, being an educator, we must be nurturing and caring to our students. Their parents put them in our trusting hands for more time a day than they see their own child. It is our job to open up our hearts, our arms and ears for them.  I learned all of this from my PE teacher, Ms. Kelli Courtois.

Who inspired you?

How did you become successful?

It started with my college career at Westfield State University. This was the perfect school for me, as I was able to excel and work with amazing professors. Dr. Kate Stanne, Dr. Holly Noun, Dr. Diana Schwartz and Dr. Robert Rausch, and my softball coach, Ms. LouAnn Simchak

I have been fortunate to surround myself with talented and knowledgeable educators as an adult as well. This wasn’t just handed to me. I became an active part of my Physical Education community around the state. I met phenomenal people along the way who allowed myself to grow as an educator. Collaboration and networking is the way to improve your craft of teaching. I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today if it wasn’t for these people that I have met along the way: Amy Gagnon, Tony Loomis, Carol Ciotto, Amy Muska, Jay and Mike Cebula, Patty Pursell, Jean Mee, Phyllis Jones, Rich Keegan and Connie Kapral.

Currently, I am fortunate to have a great co-worker, Mr. Brian Deming. We have a great gymnasium environment and a great working relationship, where we are able to teach our students.

How did you become successful in your career?

Share your success story!

Posted in education, kids, making a difference, mastery based learning, physical education, standards-based grading, teaching, Uncategorized

“Making a Difference”


As the school year rush begins and we are all busy creating the first unit plans, making our sub folder, learning our student names, writing our welcome letters to the parents, having our first meetings, etc.,- take a breath and pause for a moment. Reflect on why you became a teacher, reflect on your goals, hopes and dreams for this school year. Think about “how YOU can make a difference!”.

I was working on a curriculum map the week before school started, when a welcome letter came from my Superintendent. In it, was our new district motto, “Making A Difference.” Immediately, I stopped what I was doing and gave thought to that statement. It led me to ask some people how their teachers made a difference in their lives and this is what I heard:

“Taught me how to be the best version of myself.”

“My coach pushed me on the court and allowed me to grow as a person, leader and student.”

“Taught me to be patient with myself and there was always more than one way to solve a problem.”

“He really listened to me, asked me questions, paid attention and reassured me that I belonged here.”

“He showed me sympathy while my mom was battling cancer, while still helping me learn.”

“She spent hours with me, giving me extra help. She did it with humor and patience and because of her, I became a teacher.”

“She inspired me to see that it was possible to come from an uneducated, low-income family and do amazing things!”

I know for me, there were many teachers that showed they cared for me throughout the years. Though I don’t remember all of the lessons taught everyday, I do remember the love my teachers showed me. I remember a high school science teacher who made me stay after to help me improve my grade and despite my not caring to get better, she still put in the effort and to this day, she is my mentor as I continue my teaching career. I also remember my high school PE teacher who would play 1 v 1 basketball with me and it was her that inspired me to go into Physical Education. I had a great basketball coach who was passionate about coaching and even more caring about us as kids and making sure each one of us was successful off of the court. The thing that sticks out the most are the teachers that would give up their own time and come to my sporting events. That was the best feeling—seeing my teachers in the crowd cheering me on!

Teachers make a difference every day in the lives of the children they teach, most of the time, just naturally. Imagine the difference we could make, if we actually thought about making a difference and applied this thought at least once a day into our teaching. With all of the hatred going on in the world, especially in our own country in Charlottesville and the devastation of a natural weather disaster in Houston, there are so many ways that we can help. We can teach our children how to make a difference by spreading the message of love, kindness and generosity.

In your own community, look at each and every one of your students. How can you make a difference with all of them? How can you connect with the student who is constantly disrupting your class? Maybe you are that teacher that will establish a relationship with that child and help him/her to success. How can you make a difference in the life of a child who appears to have everything going for them? How can you make a difference with the average student, the one that often blends in with the rest? What are YOU going to do this year to make a difference in the lives of each of your students?

I challenge each and every one of you to end each of your classes challenging your students to make a difference in their school/community/family/self/country/world/etc and I challenge YOU to make a difference in the lives of each and every one of the students you teach!

Together, WE can make a difference in the lives of our students and together, our STUDENTS can make a difference in the world they live in!

How will YOU be that teacher that makes a difference and leaves an impact on a child forever?