Congratulations to senior, Lindsey Spritzler of North Penn High School, for being selected as a member
of the 2018 All-National Honor Mixed Choir. She will join the “best of the best” as a Soprano I in the
National Association for Music Education All-National Honor Mixed Choir, performing at their
conference in Disney World in November.
Congrats also to Music Department Chair, Matthew Klenk, for helping Lindsey to achieve this honor.
We’re proud to feature Jeanine Waldron, an Honors and AP English teacher at Central Bucks High School West, as this week’s #TeacherTuesday. Although she says, “the schedule is demanding, the work load can be punishing… the best part of the job is sharing what we love with really great kids.”
This creative and committed teacher further states, “When 30 sophomores are arguing about the end of Catcher in the Rye, I feel like I have the best job in the world. I am lucky. I get to read books and discuss them, or delve into plays and perform them with kids who are passionate about the works.” She adds, “I share literature with students for a living. I don’t know if there is anything better than that.”
If you’re a teacher, tell us what makes you get up each morning and go to school, and we’ll feature you in an upcoming #TeacherTuesday profile.
Colleen Quinn-Maxwell, this week’s sunny #TeacherTuesday, teaches health and physical education to ninth through twelfth graders at Lower Moreland High School. She turned her lessons into action by obtaining donor funding through the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation to obtain three sunscreen dispensers for the district’s campuses and started a Students Against Melanoma Club, becoming the first school district in Pennsylvania to offer these dispensers and be recognized as a Sun Safety SunSmart School District.
Says Colleen, “I receive an incredible amount of pride from teaching. I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was a Certified Athletic Trainer and loved helping my athletes learn more about how they could get better following an injury and teaching my student athletic trainers about the fields of health, medicine and physical education.” And she adds, “Fulfilling my dream to help others through so many outlets in my day as a high school health and physical education teacher brings me a complete sense of worth that I am creating a positive extension of my knowledge to my students and school community.”
Tell us what other educators make a constructive difference for their students and we’ll feature them in an upcoming #TeacherTuesday profile.
Jennifer McKinnon, the librarian for first through fourth graders at the J. K. Gotwals Elementary School in the Norristown Area School District, is this week’s awesome #TeacherTuesday. She uses personal learning network groups to discover “exciting new ideas to try with my students.” Jennifer is motivated by her students’ enthusiasm about the new tools and programs she introduces to them and loves that “I can provide them with access to materials that they may not otherwise be able to explore.”
Their “joy of learning” … “keeps me going and keeps me inspired to find new learning experiences for them.”
What other educators pour their heart and soul into their classrooms every day? Let us know and we’ll feature them in an upcoming #TeacherTuesday.
We Americans are busy. We work, shop, cook, take care of the kids, and have little time left over. At a time of growing inequality, for many it feels like a struggle just to stay in place. Naturally, we are concerned about our children’s future. We wonder whether schools are preparing them for a changing economy.
I’m a parent. I want to do all that I can to help my children, although I’m not always sure what that might be.
That’s why we parents need regular reminders of the broader purposes of public schools. Instead of providing us those reasons, education reformers of the 21st century appeal to our fears and our pocketbooks. We are told again and again that our children will not get jobs unless they excel—and that our schools are failing. Children need to be prepared for “college and career,” but not, it seems, to be citizens or flourishing human beings.
“Children need to be prepared for ‘college and career,’ but not, it seems, to be citizens or flourishing human beings.”
There is nothing wrong with schools preparing Americans for work and encouraging social mobility. Parents reasonably expect schools to offer their children economic opportunities, and all Americans benefit from a vibrant economy. But these goals are not enough. Today, we need reformers who appeal to the better angels of our nature. We need the kind of reformers who promote the ideals that the founders of our schools did over a century ago, most notably Horace Mann.
Mann—the first Massachusetts Board of Education Secretary in the 1830s—called us to be better selves. He used his bully pulpit to celebrate the true purpose of public education. He argued that a child’s right to public education “begins with the first breath he draws.” Children need more than food and shelter; they have minds, hearts, and souls.”
Mann reasserted what the founders had said: In a republic, every citizen must be educated with the knowledge to make good decisions and to have empathy. “As each citizen is to participate in the power of governing others,” he wrote, “it is an essential preliminary that he should be imbued with a feeling for the wants, and a sense of the rights, of those whom he is to govern; because the power of governing others, if guided by no higher motive than our own gratification, is the distinctive attribute of oppression.”
Indeed, Mann hoped that public schools would foster economic opportunity, but not place economic success above other goods. To Mann, public schools should encourage public-mindedness, not just personal ambition.
Other antebellum education reformers agreed. John Pierce, the new state of Michigan’s first superintendent of public schools, celebrated public schools where “all classes are blended together; the rich mingle with the poor … and mutual attachments are formed.” James Henry Jr., then superintendent of schools in Herkimer County, N.Y., believed that public schools would prepare every American to “discharge his duties as an individual, as a member of society, and as a citizen of a free State.”
We have struggled to meet these aspirations in a society segregated by class and race. Yet, antebellum reformers’ civic ideals continued to inspire advocates of public education.
In the 1990s, supporters of national standards in the George H.W. Bush administration offered three reasons to improve achievement: “to promote educational equality, to preserve democracy and enhance the civic culture, and to improve economic competitiveness.”
But that pursuit of “economic competitiveness” seems to crowd out the others today. This a real lowering of our expectations.
That’s why we need a new generation of reformers to inspire us Americans again with the public purposes of public education. They will not come from the top down in the form of corporate reform; they must emerge from the grass roots. In many communities across the country, this is already happening.
When we vote or attend PTA and school board meetings, we can remind our leaders and—perhaps more importantly—each other, that we value more than getting ahead. Ideally, public schools bring together a diverse community and promote equality and empathy. They will not do so, however, unless we remember what, deep down, we already know to be true. Public schools shape hearts and minds and sustain our democracy.
Johann Neem is a professor of history at Western Washington University. He is the author of Democracy’s Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017).
Cynthia makes learning come alive for her students by such projects as the recreation of the underground railroad to observe Black History Month. When she conducts the lesson, it ends with the reading of the final chapter of a book in a black tunnel designed to make students feel like they are running away at night.
“Public education is the great equalizer,” says Cynthia. “Public schools bring together children and families from all socio-economic, racial/ethnic backgrounds and provide them with access to a free and quality education.” Also in her words, “These educators entered the profession as a calling and have dedicated their lives to young people. In my opinion, public education is second to none.”
Who else makes you believe that we have the best educators anywhere? Let us know and we’ll feature them in an upcoming #TeacherTuesday post.
This week’s #TeacherTuesday, Philip Detwiler, of Upper Perkiomen Middle School, helps bring American History 1 alive for his eighth graders. His infectious enthusiasm is evident as he talks not only about how much he loves his students, but his colleagues too.
Says Phil, “I absolutely love teaching this age group of students because of their ability to think and write critically. Yet, my students still retain the fun-loving hearts of children, whom still enjoy classroom competitions, activities, and even the occasional corny joke.”
Phil also gives kudos to his colleagues when he says, “I also have the pleasure of working with an amazing group of people who come to work early and stay late every day to make their classrooms that much better for our students. He adds, “The professionals in this district, both in and out of the classroom, nurture excellence through their ability to work collectively with each other and the students they stand in front of every day.”
Let us know who else is a key figure in your school’s community and we’ll feature that educator in an upcoming #TeacherTuesday.
This week’s #TeacherTuesday, Sharon Benaderet-Cohen, used her vast experience as a teacher for general education, handicapped, disabled, and disturbed children as well as her certification as a consultant and case manager, to change lives over her 44-year career in education. Drawing upon her experience, including a stint at Richboro and Wrightstown Elementary Schools in Council Rock School District, Sharon just released a book entitled, “Touch a Life,” focusing on “Inspirational stories on teaching to the good in all types of students.” This moving guide for teachers, student teachers and parents offers a collection of inspirational stories about how she found the “good” in each student and taught to that “good.” But more than that, it’s a lesson in kindness and how one teacher can truly make a difference.
Says Sharon, “Teaching is more than an art. It’s a way of working with mutual communication. No matter how challenging a student may be, treating him or her with love, kindness and respect will make him soar to new heights.”
We’re proud to feature the very entrepreneurial educator, Albert Catarro, Ed.D. as this week’s #TeacherTuesday. A Business and Cooperative Education teacher at William Tennent High School in the Centennial School District PA for the past 20 years, he specializes in developing school, business and community partnerships which provide incredible opportunities for the students. He says, “The first time I witnessed authentic learning through a business/education partnership, I was hooked.”
In 2013, Al completed his dissertation centered on the impact of No Child Left Behind on Career and Technical Education. In the upcoming year, he will directly implement partnerships in the classroom with Entrepreneurship serving as one of many focus-points to address Career Education and Work Academic Standards.
Below, second from left, Dr. Catarro is pictured with other teachers and students who were part of CentennialX, an incubator/accelerator which he helped to found. This photo was taken at MedicineX held at Stanford University last summer.
Tell us who else creates forward-thinking opportunities for their students and we’ll feature them in an upcoming #TeacherTuesday.
North Penn educator: Teachers spend hundreds of dollars to be good at their jobs | Perspective
by Alan M. Malachowski, For the Inquirer
Imagine if you walked into a new job and learned that you were expected to supply your own materials to do that job to the best of your ability.
That’s the conundrum faced by an overwhelming 94 percent of teachers, who spent $479 of their own money, on average, during the 2014–15 school year, according to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics released in May. That same study showed that 9 percent of elementary school teachers spent even more, logging expenses in excess of $1,001 for the year.
Locally, teachers in Bucks and Montgomery Counties weighed in on the question of personal spending for school supplies in a recent small and informal Facebook poll.
The highest number of respondents spent between $251 and $500. Some reported that their expenses exceeded that number, with one individual tallying more than $1,001. One educator stated that she doesn’t “get any budget as a special education teacher,” and another indicated that it “depends on the year but last year I spent a lot when I did flexible seating.”
In recent years, some teachers have turned to crowd-sourced websites to raise funds for their classrooms, but we wonder why adequate funds are not allocated to cover the basics and the enriching materials that are required to bring a 21st century classroom to life.
In some districts, educators pay for basics such as paper and pencils, but in others their funds cover the “extras.”
Do these materials really matter? Teachers believe that a classroom that is engaging and well-decorated with sufficient supplies for creative learning can be transforming, especially for students from low-income homes. Those classrooms help to make students more assured and expand their limits. For example, the crowdfunded website Donorschoose.org indicates that “94 percent of teachers said their funded projects increased their effectiveness in the classroom.”
As teachers, we believe that our students deserve the materials and stimulation that make learning exciting, and that placing this additional financial burden on teachers is unfair. In the ongoing conversations about local and state education funding, we need to advocate for common-sense solutions that provide teachers and students with sufficient resources and enrichment so that every child can excel without educators reaching further into their own pockets.
Isn’t it time to take another look at this issue?
Alan M. Malachowski is president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Mideastern Region, and an elementary school music teacher in the North Penn School District.