Teacher of the week: Teacher who puts students before herself

by Michelle Psaltakis and Samantha Ubertini, staff reporters 

Our geometry teacher working hard to plan her new lessons for the week.  Students completed work on parallel and perpendicular lines and are planning on learning constructions next.

Our geometry teacher working hard to plan her new lessons for the week. Students completed work on parallel and perpendicular lines and are planning on learning constructions next.

Ms. West teaches 9th, 10th and 12th grades, Geometry and Trig

1. What inspired you to become a teacher?

I had a really great religion teacher in my junior year of high school and she helped me work through a lot of issues, both personally and academically.  She was a huge inspiration to me and I still keep in touch with her.

I also had really great math teachers my senior year of high school that I liked and saw as mentors. When I was a senior in highschool, I was sent a brochure to apply for a mathematics teaching program, TIME 2000, at Queens College and if accepted it included a scholarship. Once I started in the teaching program there, I knew I had found my career.

2. Why did you choose to teach this subject?

When I was in school, math was always one of my favorite subjects and one of my best. I enjoyed that there were some topics I could use in other subjects and outside of the classroom.  I had tutored in high school in math, and [I] thought I might make a good teacher since I could explain the problems well.

3. What makes you different from all the other teachers?

One of the things that is different about me compared to the other teachers is that I live locally.  I grew up and still live in College Point.  I often see my students outside of school, and some of them live very close to me.  I also really value the connections I make with my students.  My piercings normally make me stand out to students as well.

4. What teacher had impacted your life when you were in school?

My religion teacher junior year had a huge impact on my life.  Her influence and help is what led me to want to become a teacher.

5. Do you have any secret talents? If so what are they?

Some of the students know that I have a Jeep Wrangler.  I take it off roading about once per month with my fiance and some friends. There is an off roading park that I go to in Pennsylvania that has over 3,000 acres of trails you can drive on.

Offroading consists of all different unpaved trails that can include different obstacles involving hills, rocks, mud, water, and off-camber situations. It requires technical skills to make it through obstacles, without getting stuck or doing damage to your vehicle.

6.What sacrifices have you made since being a teacher?

Becoming a teacher has completely changed my life.  The biggest changes and sacrifices I had to make were my social life, sleep, putting the needs of my students before myself. It’s changed many of my priorities.

7. How many years have you been a teacher?

I’ve been a teacher for four years.

8. Has being a teacher changed who you are? For better or worse?

I don’t know. I feel like it has, but it hasn’t. I feel like I have more patience here [in school],  but a lot less outside of school, because I use so much of it in school.  I don’t think my personality has changed very much.  I think my personality shows in the classroom with my students.

9. What do you believe the ups and downs of being a teacher are?

The ups are definitely seeing your students grow and mature.  I enjoy hearing the positive impact I had on my students both inside and outside the classroom.  It makes all the struggles of being a teacher worthwhile.

The downs are sometimes dealing with 150 different teenagers every day who all have their own life and may be going through their own struggles and issues while still trying to teach them. Dealing with the different curriculums and the board of education can also be difficult.

10. How have your students impacted you as a teacher?

I would say my students impact my decisions that I make every day. I constantly learn from them and think what I would want them to do. I want to be a good role model and that helps to guide the decisions I make.

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