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The Reflective Teacher: My Most Memorable Teachers by Gail Beyrer

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Gail Beyrer, an AmeriCorps veteran whose husband also is a teacher, teaches fourth grade on Long Island, New York.

Gail Beyrer

The East Rockaway School District encompasses only one square mile and contains two elementary schools. As a child, I attended one of those schools -- Centre Avenue; as an adult, I am employed at the other school -- Rhame Avenue. Our district also includes a combination junior-senior high school, with approximately 600 students in grades 7-12.

In many ways, East Rockaway is a typical small town on Long Island. One quality that I think sets us apart from similar school districts, however, is our incredible teaching staff. During Teacher Appreciation week, I want to recognize so many teachers who have had a profound effect on me and on my career choice; it's hard to single out only a few -- especially since I work in this district. But I shall forge valiantly ahead!

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My first grade teacher, Mrs. Rauch, taught me that every day in school can be an exciting adventure.

Mrs. Veltre, in second grade, showed me that patience and an ever-positive attitude were two incredibly useful tools when teaching a diverse group of learners.

In third grade with Mrs. Ginocchio, I learned to laugh at myself and learn from my mistakes; and I learned that a sense of humor goes a long way in the classroom.

Then came fourth grade and I had my first "boy" teacher. Mr. Faulkner, who is retiring this year, taught me -- as he read aloud Where the Red Fern Grows -- how powerful literature can be. I don't remember a dry eye in the room at the conclusion of that book!

In high school, Mrs. Orzano made calculus "do-able." (I think she is the personification of the phrase "No Child Left Behind.")

Mrs. Brock -- by opening her home to our Mock Trial team so we could practice during vacations, and by her efforts as advisor to the student council -- taught me that teaching is not just an 8-3 job.

Mr. McAnulla taught me, that commas, do not, need to be everywhere, and that, you might want, to take a breath, in a sentence.

Mr. Cimorelli, in the role of my high school class advisor, modeled faith and pride in his students by wearing a tuxedo as he sat in the audience for our first class competition.

Mrs. Friedman, my tenth grade English teacher, let us sit in circles and discuss literaturewhich is why my undergraduate degree is in English!

I obviously had an extremely positive school experience. In fact, I could go on and on about other teachers who made teaching an obvious choice for my vocation. To the teachers of my past, and to those I work alongside of today, I say, "thank you." It is because of you that I have found my way to this very rewarding field.

I hope that when my students remember me they will recall that I listened to them and helped them understand that it's OK to make mistakes. I hope they remember that I taught them that there are lots of different ways to be smart, and that studying history helps explain what is happening in our world today. Mostly, though, I hope that if they do pass a moment thinking of me, they will do so with a smile.

Previous Teacher Diaries

Be sure to see Education World's previous teacher diary features, The First 180 Days: First-Year Teacher Diaries and A First-Year Teacher and Her Mentor.

Article by Gail Beyrer
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