photo of mark moraleda standing in front of bookshelf

Special Education Teacher

As a student in Queens, New York, I didn’t always enjoy school, but I always had a love of language and of good stories. It was this passion that compelled me to major in English literature in college. I earned my BA in English Literature from Queens College and my MA in English Education from City College (both are campuses of the City University of New York). As a middle school teacher in the Bronx, I taught 6th-grade social studies for five years, and 7th and 8th grade English language arts for three. 

It took me a while to become comfortable with the idea that teaching English Language Arts was not the best fit for me. One of the turning points came in the spring of 2016, when I moved to Ithaca, and was hired at New Roots. That year, one of my roles at the school was to facilitate learning labs. In these learning labs, I worked with individual students to help them identify, and then prioritize, all of the assignments they needed to work on. I also helped them to complete those assignments. I found that the one-to-one and small group work that I did with students to be very rewarding, and transitioned into teaching special education full-time shortly after that. 

There were a lot of things that attracted me to New Roots, the small teacher-to-student ratio, the mission statement and vision of being a school for sustainability and social justice, and the sense of community that was and still is apparent the moment one steps into the building. That it is always striving to become a more innovative and progressive place for students has allowed me to reimagine, as well as unlearn, many things about my teaching practice and philosophy. Additionally, New Roots has given me the opportunity to try a new career path, and begin working as a special education teacher.