Teacher of the Week

While the first year of her teaching career in 2020-21 was unprecedented, Booker T. Washington second-grade teacher Tracy Brown took positives out of the experience.

“I was one of the ‘lucky’ novice teachers who taught their first year online, which was a huge challenge, but it also gave me the opportunity to learn a lot more about technology and how to use many programs that are helpful in a normal school year, too,” she said.

After a full year back in the classroom, Brown isn’t afraid to think outside the box to make an impact on her students, whether she’s teaching grammar with Mad Libs, chatting one-on-one with a student or incorporating her students’ interests into her lessons

I find my work important because … as much as my job is to teach children, I learn equally as much, if not more, from them! Kids’ perspectives on the world fascinate me, and I love how much I gain every day from all my kiddos.

I became a teacher because … I realized how wildly impactful experiences in childhood are and how big of a role teachers play in that, and I wanted to be part of it. I also know how many kids in our community and so many others rely on the support and guidance of teachers every day, and it just clicked one day that this is where I’m meant to be.

My favorite/most unique lesson that I teach is … I LOVE grammar and love to teach it, but kids usually have a pretty hard time with it. I am always looking for engaging lessons to help make grammar fun. Close to the end of the year last school year, I started doing Mad Libs with my class as mini lessons. They LOVED it! It was something fun we could do as a class, which really helped build community, but also had them using and remembering the parts of speech. Not to mention, it got all of us laughing!

My most fulfilling moment on the job was/is when … I think any “AHA!” moment is always super fulfilling. I also love when I am able to connect with a student on a personal level and they choose me to come to in a time of need or worry, even if I am not their teacher. I taught online my first year, and I had a student who always had his camera off and was often not paying attention. I would pull him into a break-out room every now and then just to chat one-on-one and the next year, he stopped in my classroom every single morning for the entire school year to visit for a minute and tell me good morning. Being able to build that relationship with him, even though we were online was an amazing feeling.

Something else I’m passionate about is … my kids! I have two boys; an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old and they light up my life! I also really love to cook and am interested in home improvements and decorating. Spending time with my wonderful husband, Christopher, is one of my favorite things to do too!

My favorite teacher and subject to study inschool was … My favorite teacher was my 6th grade teacher Mr. Sikora at my elementary school back home. I have always been a huge fan of learning and teaching grammar! I also really love to read!

I engage students during this strange time by … lots of hands-on activities and lessons, incorporating student interest as often and in as many areas as possible, giving students options like flexible seating and choices with assignments and how to complete them, writing goals together for them to fulfill and providing incentives have all been helpful strategies during the pandemic.

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be … an interior designer! Ever since I can remember, that was my dream job and a huge interest and hobby. As I got older, I realized that it wasn’t necessarily realistic to pursue as a career and I found my passion in education

Anthony Zilis