Today, on National Teacher Appreciation Day, we would like to sincerely thank all of the teachers with whom we work – our programs would not be possible without your unwavering support!
Often, on this blog and in our programming, we focus on the students and their work, but today we want to focus on one teacher who epitomizes passion and dedication.Ms. Quinton is an English teacher at the Community Academy of the Heights, with classes in both 10th and 7th grade; this year, her high school class completed a program with We Were Here author Matt de la Pena. This was our first time working with Ms. Quinton, a four year teaching veteran, but we were continually awed by her commitment to the students’ success. We caught up with her late last week, to find out what makes a great teacher tick.
“I want my students to love reading and understand what they read,” she told us on the phone, emphasizing, “Proficiency is not the same as love. I want my students to curl up with a book at night.”
Following up on that thought, she adds that in High School, connection really makes a difference in developing a love of reading. “Seeing Matt, asking where he came from, my students are more engaged than before,” she notes. “The tone in my classroom has completely changed.”
Her own love of books prompted her, in part, towards her current career. She was not an education major in college, but a Literature teacher urged her to reconsider, since she was so passionate about the written word. When asked for book recommendations, she mentions Bad Boy and Warriors Don’t Cry, then adds “But I also love Shakespeare! I love Chaucer!”
It’s not just her love of literature that makes Ms. Quinton special, though. Her commitment to improving the neighborhood and the lives of her students is reassuringly heartfelt.
“I always want to help,” she stresses. “When I see something broken I want to fix it.”
Unafraid to ask “how can we do this better?” Ms. Quinton has a kinetic excitement about teaching that translates even over the phone. She believes that teachers are in a unique position to show their students that they can do more, pointing out “Kids pick up on passion.”
Her favorite part of being a teacher is watching students have epiphanies – “when they speak with excitement, when they get fired up, those lightbulb moments when you see them get it,” those are the moments that make teaching special. And with her passion for literature and dedication to her students’ success, we imagine that there are many such moments in Ms. Quinton’s classroom.
Happy National Teacher Appreciation Day, and thank you Ms. Quinton!