In caring, teaching, and my own life, I try to instill my personal creed: adventure, courage, and balance. After working at a preschool for children with autism and volunteering at an orphanage in Romania, I felt deeply that educating children was where I wanted to make a difference. Because I take a whole-child approach in my teaching and caring (especially their social and emotional learning), New York City is the ideal setting for adventures that lead to unforgettable educational experiences. Combining my love of adventure with the experience and skills I have of a teaching degree, teaching license, thorough understanding of elementary school curriculum and development, and years of teaching elementary school, allows me to tutor children in the concepts and principles they need to understand at their grade level while cultivating memorable experiences in my favorite city in the world.
When I was teaching first grade before I became a nanny, I did what I could to bring adventure and memorable experiences into my classroom even though we had limited resources and I had to split my time between 25+ kids. During our butterfly unit, I could tell by the way they took care of their caterpillars that by combining the course material (we had spent weeks reading books and watching videos about butterflies) with a tangible, memorable experience, they had a meaningful, unforgettable connection with the natural world. When the chrysalises started to shake, my students knew it was because the butterflies were almost ready to emerge and I paused our lesson so we could all watch for a good ten minutes. I went back and forth between being entranced myself and watching my students who were open-mouthed, whispering happily, and literally shaking with excitement.
I want children to be comfortable and articulate in talking about how they feel (more of that social/emotional learning), so I asked them why they were excited about seeing the chrysalises shake, why they had to be careful with such delicate creatures, and why they cared about such small little bugs in the first place. When we finally set the butterflies free, one child who noticed a butterfly had fallen into the grass carefully enticed the butterfly to walk onto her hand and she lifted it onto a bush where the sun could more easily warm the wings. Each student felt a real connection with nature, an understanding about the passage of time and change, and being responsible for the life of a creature who was sitting in a plastic cup on their desk for weeks, so vulnerable, delicate, and important to each child. My favorite educational experiences are ones where I cultivate an adventurous learning environment.
I felt my mouth pulled into a smile by the way a mother gorilla took care of her baby at the Bronx Zoo. I discussed different theories with my wife about why unicorns were featured in such beautiful tapestries at the Cloisters Museum. I felt my heart tighten because of how perfectly the choreographer for a contemporary ballet rendered the music into dance. These experiences teach me about what is beautiful and meaningful in life in ways I will never forget. That’s what I always try to curate for the children I spend time with: a sense of wonder, curiosity, and adventure for everything they can learn.