I recently retired after serving thirty years as a public school teacher and administrator in metro Atlanta. I hold four education degrees from UGA, Kennesaw State, West Georgia, and Lincoln Memorial University. My areas of specialization in the classroom were in Social Studies (broad-based History and Government) and Mathematics (up to High School Algebra). I also was a teacher in the Gifted program for fifteen years.
In addition to my classroom teaching duties, I also served as an academic tutor for homeless and displaced students and as a basketball coach. My administrative years were spent with elementary school students. As a teacher and coach, I was known for being fun, but firm, interesting, but intense in my expectations….and I was not afraid to try different things to ensure that true teaching and authentic learning occurred for my students. During my last five years in the classroom, my students had a 98+ percent meets and exceeds pass rate on their subject-specific state standardized tests.
I was honored to serve as the President of the Georgia Association of Educators for four years; in which, I was able to travel throughout the state and nation engaging students and other educators to advocate for the positive transformation power of how public education empowers and enhances the lives of millions of students and their families throughout our nation.
In my spare time, I enjoy amusement parks (love roller coasters), college athletics (Go Dawgs), oldies music (swing and big band), ballroom dancing, and cruises…..when I’m not going to the movies with my daughter (my Russian princess) or the park with my rescue dog, Doyle.
University of Georgia - Bachelors, Health and Physical Education
Kennesaw State University - Masters, Middle Grades Education (SS and Math)
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
After our introduction, I want to carefully listen to the student to determine what their individual needs, strengths, and weaknesses are within their subject. Also, I want to learn how the student receives instruction best in order to tailor my teaching methods towards their learning style. Finally, we would introduce and review work in order to set up an initial relationship of teacher/student to begin fostering a feeling of support and engagement.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By identifying how the student works currently, identifying and providing activities that will engage the student in moving toward self-learning, and constantly giving positive feedback to empower the student to take ownership of their own learning while still ensuring a high level of academic support and encouragement as they move towards self-directed learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
By providing constant encouragement and positive reinforcement to the student during their studies, knowing when to move forward or slow down to ensure positive learning is occurring, and helping the student to understand that learning is a process.... the longest journey still always begins with one step at a time.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Identify what the student does know, learn what skill or concept is providing difficulty to the student, and reteach the material in a manner that provides constant support for the student, even if you have to alter your form of presentation to best assist the student in mastering the concept.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I have to learn what is holding the reader back from comprehending their material (ex. Decoding, Prefixes, Suffixes, Change in Verb Tense, etc.) by reading with the student and identifying what the problem(s) may be for them. I will then "chunk" concepts and materials together in new lessons to address the particular reading challenge to provide the student with the opportunity to overcome their conceptual struggle.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Identify the methods the student likes to learn from best, their least favorite methods, establish a baseline of student knowledge, and provide initial activities that allow the student to enjoy academic and personal success while still being engaged in learning their lesson.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Find out what things excite the student outside of the classroom, and when possible, incorporate those items into their lessons (Ex. Baseball ERA for elementary math division problems - The cause and effect of Mentos and Diet Coke for Chemistry). The key is to develop an engaging relationship with the student where you actually get to know the individual rather than the person with paper and a pencil; therefore, when the situation presents itself, you have a repository of information to help you create a lesson that will pique the student's interest and forward the teaching and learning process.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Students can show competency of a subject in many ways: Orally, Written narrative, Problem-Solving, Physical Representation, etc. The key for the teacher is to ensure that the student has the opportunity to show mastery in a manner that provides them with the best chance of success in correctly explaining their knowledge and correct application of the materials.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Provide plenty of opportunities (chunk the concepts and lessons) to review the materials in order to build mastery and strengthen the student's self-confidence in understanding and correctly learning the desired objectives of the subject matter.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
By speaking with the individual student, providing them with initial baseline activities to determine strengths and weaknesses to gauge the depth and gleaning information from the parent(s) and teacher(s), if possible, to determine needs not identified by the student verbally or via initial activity with me.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
As the teacher, I adapt however is needed to best meet the needs of the learner. This may be done by meeting in person rather than by webcam, chunking material into smaller lessons, or providing lessons by a different format of teaching. In the end, it is about what I need to do to best meet the individual need of the student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Paper and pencil, dry erase board, computer, calculator, and whatever else is needed according to the particular class.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is quite simple. After 30 years in education, I know that every child can learn. The challenge for me as a teacher, however, is determining the best method in which to teach the child so they may achieve their maximum level of success. It is all about ensuring that the child has the types of positive and creative teaching and learning experiences (and relevant materials) necessary for them to become a successful learner.