Featuring Amy (Wolff) Beresik '02
(Profiled: December 2011)
♦ How did you connect with this job
♦ What attracted you to this position?
♦ What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?
♦ What has been your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?
♦ How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?
♦ What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to
better prepare for his or her future classroom?
♦ What job search tips would you give to GCC students?
Most likely with associations I made while in
graduate school at Duquesne University. It was here that I had the
chance to meet and work with with some of the area's most prolific and
successful educators. In our district, nearly all of our music teachers
are DU grads and many are adjunct faculty and guest clinicians there.
The standard of excellence in the district is very
high. The music program is well known and is well-supported by the
community. The program K-12 is collaborative, sequential, grounded in
solid pedagogy and turns out great student musicians. We are blessed
to have such collegiality among our faculty members in that they are
willing to work together to benefit all aspects of the program.
Having some autonomy in developing my curriculum and program; growing
and developing as a professional
2. The structure to each day
3. The gratification that the kids get when they've
worked hard to sound good and it pays off
4. The opportunity to take kids in an age group
that is very underestimated and challenge them to take their talent to the
next level - they are capable of amazing things!
5. The new opportunities and possibilities that
await with every new school year. We have the chance to re-create, refine
and re-structure things as needed after reflecting upon their successes
and/or challenges. I love the opportunity to change things for the better
and continue to learn with each new year.
What has been/was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?
Without a doubt, reconciling myself to the challenges
of the school's largest program and all of the EXTRA-musical aspects, i.e.
administration, budgeting, time management, P.R., planning around a whole
building's worth of activities. In addition, I was a first-year teacher
who followed a teacher who was very established and loved by the kids and
community. When things changed, there were many people who were not
patient and supportive, so I spent a good deal of time fielding some
hurtful situations. I longed for the time when the program would truly be
"mine" and I felt more comfortable in my program and teaching. It felt
like it would never come, now I'm seven years in and can't believe how
fast it has gone!
How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?
My time at GCC impressed upon me the importance (and
example) of what professionalism is, helped me to refine my content area,
and exposed me to a wide variety of interests that I can now explore
through music: literature, history, drama and other cultures. I also feel
like the high standards expected of GCC students helped me to set and
maintain high standards for myself. In addition, having a personal faith
that was nurtured at GCC was essential. I have to lean on the Lord for
strength and wisdom every single day - there's no way I could make it
through the challenges I've faced without that.
What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to
better prepare for his or her future classroom?
1. Work hard to be the best you can and do the most with the talents you
have. Find opportunities for leadership. In these times when jobs are at
a premium, most resumes won't even be read to the end. What is on yours
that would grab someone's attention and set you apart?
Cultivate your "human touch". Be very careful to give people your full
attention, empathy, and consideration - no matter what their age,
circumstance, or background. Practice writing well and use good manners.
flexible! The classroom experience is constantly changing. Be ready to
your subject inside and out and give yourself opportunities to enrich your
knowledge of it. Practice differentiated instruction strategies to meet
the needs of all of your learners.
behind their eyes. What kind of a room would YOU enjoy spending time in
each day? How would you like to be spoken to? Sit in your classroom
seats. What do you see? What kind of a "feel" is in the room? Remember
that they don't know about whatever "baggage" you're bringing into the
day....is it affecting how you come across to them?
most people will remember about you is how you made them feel!
What job search tips would you give to GCC students?
1. Be distinctive.
2. Be relentless in pursuing opportunities, even if they are temporary or
you perceive them to be outside of your training area. You can develop
skills in many different ways! You'll be establishing a professional
network while you're at it and you never know when you'll need something -
connections are crucial (and attainable!)
3. Continue to hone your skills and stay abreast of the latest research,
skills, and methods so you'll be ready to jump in when you have the