Karen McCusker

Spotlight

FAIR STREET ELEMENTARY TEACHER OF THE YEAR: KAREN MCCUSKER

Question: What would you say your best teaching strategy is? 

Answer: Since I am an ESOL teacher, I feel that the best teaching strategy I can use is differentiation.  Knowing where my students are when they come into the classroom helps me determine how I can best help them learn the material.

Question:
What do you teach? 

Answer: I am currently an ESOL teacher.

Question: Have you always taught that? 

Answer: I have not always taught ESOL.  I have taught first and fourth grade. This is my sixth year teaching ESOL.

Question: Why is this what you wanted to teach? 

Answer:
After my first year of teaching, I was moved to ESOL.  Teaching English Language Learners has been very rewarding.  This gives me an opportunity to help students grow while learning the English language.  I love it when my students are able to connect what they are learning with their own language and culture.  

Question: What do you feel is the most important thing in your classroom? Why? 

Answer: I feel that there are several important things to have in a classroom.  One thing is creating a safe environment in which all students feel they are a part of a community.  Building caring relationships with students gives them a sense of security and provides them with a sense of belonging.  Having positive teacher-student relationships encourage students' motivation and engagement in learning.

Question: What is your favorite thing about teaching? 

Answer: My favorite thing about teaching is being able to build relationships with my students and helping them become successful students. 

Question: What makes your school special? 

Answer: One thing that makes Fair Street special is it has been part of the community for over 80 years.  I have been able to see how the community pours back into the school, especially those that attended Fair Street in years past.  I also feel that everyone at Fair Street supports each other when needed.   We create close net families within our school.

Question:
2020-2021 was a year like no one has ever experienced, with many challenges and yet, you were selected as the Teacher of the Year. What do you think was a differentiator for you and your classroom especially in the wake of COVID?

Answer: The changes due to COVID created many challenges for everyone.  I feel that as a school, we all faced those challenges head on knowing that our students had already missed much instruction when we went virtual.  We were lucky to have been able to teach face-to-face as much as we did.  As a school, we all learned to pivot and do what was needed to help our students.  I am honored to have been chosen as Teacher of the Year during such a crucial year. 

Question: What is the best way for parents to support our teacher's?
 
Answer: The best way for parents to support our teachers is to get involved with their child's education and to help build a clear line of communication.  Communication is key to building a strong teacher-parent relationship.  As a parent with three children in high school, I have learned that communication with their teachers is so important.

Question:
How can students show their appreciation? 

Answer:
For me, students can show their appreciation by doing their best in the classroom.  I enjoy watching the students when they set goals and meet those goals.  This shows me they are invested in their learning and they haven't given up.

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