As a native of the Finger Lakes region influenced by my parent’s working class downstate New York upbringings, I have come to regard my circumstance of being born and raised in this uniquely beautiful corner of the world as my happiest stroke of luck. My experiences growing up in a rural community as well as the opportunities I was afforded by my proximity to the cultural center of Ithaca – attending music shows, exploring state parks, and exposure to diverse community events – allowed me to spend meaningful time interacting with and learning from the natural world, as well as the arts and humanities. These strong memories of joyful community and natural connection to the Earth continue to shape and reinforce my values and professional endeavors today.
After graduating from Spencer-Van Etten, I attended Alfred State College where I played varsity soccer and studied adolescent education with a concentration in history. I then transferred to SUNY Cortland and graduated with my bachelors degree in history and art history. While working in residence life and housing to offset the cost of room and board at both institutions, I realized that I thoroughly enjoy working with teenagers and young adults. Upon leaving college, I endeavored to learn and earn a living in many different roles and fields in the local area, including: interim local historian, nature-based preschool teacher, hostess at a five star restaurant, summer camp counselor and finally, entering the public school system first as a substitute, then as a specialized reading teacher assistant at the elementary level.
It was in this last role that I was given the opportunity to connect with struggling students on a one-on-one and small group basis. I began to notice that in crafting dynamic lessons that bridged subject areas and were informed by students’ interests, they not only grew stamina and comprehension skills, but also confidence and joy in perceiving themselves as readers. As an educator, I aim to create opportunities that actively incorporate movement, play, music, community connection and nature in instruction.
Coming to teach at New Roots feels like I’m coming home in a way. I’m grateful to be working with an educational institution and staff that grounds itself in many of the same beliefs and practices that are intrinsic to my human experience. The school’s emphasis on social justice, education for sustainability, whole-child development, interdisciplinary learning, group work and community involvement are a welcome breath of fresh air as I return to the realm of public education.
I look forward to connecting, learning and growing with the New Roots students, staff and community through the great work we do together at this momentous time and place we find ourselves in history.