At Scholastic we are lucky to work with passionate educators from all over the world. From Nebraska to Nairobi, our work at Scholastic is motivated and inspired by educators from all walks of life.
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World Teacher’s Day wouldn’t be complete without us sharing the incredible stories of teachers we are so fortunate to work with!
Wendy Banks, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: A guiding force at the School of Research Science in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, assistant head teacher Wendy Banks is passionate about incorporating literacy into every aspect of her students’ learning environment. Wendy works tirelessly to ensure the 1,000+ students and 100+ teachers at her school have access to the very best resources to develop reading skills at every age and ability level. Another important aspect for Wendy is incorporating fun into the school day! Wendy hosted a 24-hour read-a-thon where students dressed like characters from their favorite books (she is the caterpillar from “A Very Hungry Caterpillar” in the featured photo) and participated in ‘stop, drop, and read’ moments throughout the day.
And Wendy doesn’t stop there – she also partners with like-minded organizations and educators to share ideas and work towards building a culture of reading for the next generation of children in the United Arab Emirates. This fall she’s working with the Emirates Literacy Festival to bring Arabic and English authors to her school to promote the importance of parents reading to children.
Melissa Collins, Memphis, TN: While accolades have taken her from the White House to Brazil, second grade teacher, Melissa Collins feels most at home in her classroom at John P. Freeman Optional School in Memphis. To ensure she is nurturing the inquisitive minds of her students Melissa turns her classroom into a learning lab. Melissa created a science and engineering unit called “Sounds All Around” that incorporates music and collaborative group work. When asked about her teaching method, Melissa said, “There’s an old adage: “Tell me and I will forget. Teach me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand.” We need to turn our classrooms into learning labs. That’s what I try to create. You have to give students total autonomy. At this age, they’re curious about the world around them and ready to ask questions. They’re always asking questions! We need to recognize the importance of them asking questions. They need to be able to pose the questions and then seek out their own understanding.”For Melissa the biggest reward of teaching is seeing some of her students continue school to become nurses and biomedical engineers and seeing what she spoke about in her classroom in Memphis, TN come to life.
Mohsen Ghaffari, Salt Lake City, Utah: In 1978, Mohsen Ghaffari emigrated from Iran to the United States with the dream of becoming a teacher. In the years since achieving his dream, he has taught hundreds of students, placing an emphasis on developmentally appropriate instruction and meeting the needs of English language learners. It was for these reasons and more that the fifth-grade teacher at North Star Elementary School in Salt Lake City was named Utah’s Teacher of the Year.
Erin Dukeshire, Roxbury, Massachusetts: Erin Dukeshire knows that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are far less likely to receive quality math and science instruction. That’s what brought her to teaching and what has kept her in the classroom for the past decade. She has reaped her share of awards, including the 2015 Fishman Prize, but perhaps nothing is as gratifying as her current work in turning one of Boston’s lowest-performing schools into one of its fastest improving. When asked about her teaching philosophy, Erin said,“Two words come to mind: social justice. It’s important to me that my work closes the achievement and opportunity gap.”
Sarah E. Ozuem, Nigeria: Sarah E. Ozuem is the School Librarian at theGreenoak International School in Nigeria. To increase her students love for reading, Sarah encourages them to participate Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. To ensure summer reading is actually happening, Sarah helps her students locate resources that would stimulate their interest and introduces them to various genres available in the library. Sarah constantly reminds her students that reading is important and motivates them to read beyond the school day. After each student completes a book, Sarah has them create book reports on each title so they can share their enthusiasm around the book with their classmates. This year, thanks to Sarah’s leadership in promoting summer reading, Greenoak International School read a total of 1,196,525 minutes, ranking them #21 globally in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.
Christina Richard, New York City, NY: Christina Richard believes all children deserve time in the spotlight. The New York City special education teacher was named to the International Literacy Association’s 2015 “30 Under 30” list for her innovative work combining literacy with the performing arts. Her students’ productions include The P.S. 8 Choice Awardsand Cloudy With a Chance of Music. She particularly focuses on including at-risk students, in one case helping a student labeled as selectively mute progress from being nonverbal in school to taking on leading roles in shows.
Pernille Ripp, Oregon, Wisconsin: In her younger days, teaching was the one thing Pernille Ripp didn’t want to do. She went to college but, unsure of her career path, soon dropped out. “As the story goes, I met a boy, and that boy asked me what I was going to do with my life,” she says. “I realized the one thing I had been running away from was what I most wanted to do—work with kids.” Since then, Ripp has made a powerful impact, not only in her own classroom, but through writing, speaking at events, offering professional development, and facilitating a global literacy project.
Jason Sterlacci, Union, New Jersey: Talk about prepping for a big test. “I am not exaggerating when I say I spent over 20 years preparing for eventually being on Jeopardy!” says New Jersey teacher Jason Sterlacci, who won the 2016 Teachers Tournament. “I’ve emphasized to my students the importance of following one’s dreams and how much hard work went into winning.” Sterlacci teaches sixth-grade language arts and says he approaches each topic and each assignment “from a perspective of fun and enthusiasm.” And yes, he does class Jeopardy! when reviewing for tests.
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