I would describe myself as a life-long learner. I have always enjoyed school, but especially teaching and learning about history, the world and current events. I am very lucky in many ways, my work is my passion.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
Like many educators, I was inspired by my own teachers. Three individuals stand out in particular, one at each level of my academic career. My U.S. History teacher in high school, Mr. Joseph Faigley, exposed me to the great concepts associated with the study of history. I was able to develop a passion for understanding the world and current events by working with Dr. Nozar Alamolki at Hiram College. In graduate school Dr. William McCarthy (UNCW) taught be how to do professional research and think critically about the world and history in general. I was very lucky to have such a talented array of teachers that inspired me to get into the profession.
How does being a basketball coach inform your teaching and vice versa?
I grew up with the game of basketball. In many ways in allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and develop friends outside of my own culture. Teaching and coaching are truly one in the same. Great coaches are great teachers, I think the two go hand and hand.
How do you use PenPal Schools in your classroom?
I have used PenPal Schools in a wide variety of settings. The current events discussions are a natural fit into our Honors Geography classes as are the language base courses for our International Students. What has been intriguing is watching some of our top students participate in the newly developed South African course. Despite this being a very busy time, with college applications, sports, theater and other activities, they have been thoroughly engaged. It demonstrates that PenPal programs work in a wide variety of settings.
What benefits does PenPal Schools bring to your students?
Some of students are able to travel outside of the country, but not all of them. We talk quite a bit at our school in regard to promoting empathy. The PenPal programs help us do just that. We feel through the short lessons students are able to make a connection with others around the world and with the content they are discussing.
How have your students liked the experience of learning with pen pals?
We started PenPal Schools last school year in several classes. One student who is not in any classes that use PenPal this school year came to me and asked if she could be signed up for a PenPal because she enjoyed the program so much! This was an “ah-ha” moment for me as a teacher. Here is a student who clearly understood the value of connecting with others. For no rewards or grades, she wanted to continue to engage with students around the world to discuss important issues.