How did you connect with this job
opportunity? My senior year I received an email about an
ECS informational session about Fairfax County Public Schools. Mrs.
Snyder set up a phone conference with a contact she had in Fairfax
County in the Employment Offices. I was interested initially for two
reasons: first, Fairfax County was only an hour from where I grew up in
Annapolis, MD; second, Fairfax County was planning on hiring 1,000
teachers for the upcoming school year. With so many school districts
laying off teachers instead of hiring them, this seemed like the perfect
opportunity. After attending the informational session, I was completely
What attracted you to this
As I mentioned before, I was interested first because of the
availability of jobs and the relative proximity of Fairfax County to my
hometown. However, the more I learned about the county the more I wanted
to work there. It is one of the largest and considered one of the best
school districts in the nation. There is a wide variety of people in
Fairfax County from many different cultures, races, countries and
economic backgrounds. Teachers are treated well in Fairfax County since
they are paid well and have great benefits. There are also a lot of
opportunities for professional development and continued learning and
teachers are held to a high standard. Since there is such diversity in
the county, there is a school to fit any preference and personality.
What are the most gratifying
aspects of your job?
I love so many parts of my job, it is hard to pick just one. I guess my
number one is having my own classroom and my own students. I love that I
get to spend the whole year with these kids and really pour into their
lives. They are such a joy and constantly make me laugh. I also love
having a wonderful team of other teachers with whom I can work, plan, and
even vent. Fairfax County is all about collaboration in the
schools, and it has been extremely valuable to build relationships with
and learn from all the other staff at the school. They are all so
welcoming and helpful. As a teacher, I also love learning and trying new
things. I have learned many new strategies of teaching from professional
development and just everyday experience. Teaching has been a constant
growing process, which has been extremely gratifying.
What has been your biggest
challenge as a first-year teacher?
Hands down, the biggest challenge for me as a first year teacher has
been parents. Many parents in Fairfax County are highly interested and
involved in their child's education. This is wonderful since parents
play a huge role in educating their children. However, sometimes it is
hard to maintain a balance between welcoming parental involvement and
maintaining a role of authority in your classroom. Relationships with
parents are an integral piece of teaching well, but it is also one of the
hardest to practice beforehand, since student teaching and field
experiences do not often have you working daily with parents. However,
the important thing to remember is that parents care about their
children, and want the very best for them. If you let them know that you
want the same thing as they do and build trusting relationships with
them, then they will relax and trust you with their child.
How did your time at GCC prepare
you for the teaching field?
GCC was wonderful in that they get you in the classroom early and often.
This was so important because when I had my own classroom, I was not
nervous about teaching. I already had so much practice! Also, by the
time I graduated, I knew that teaching was what I loved and what I
wanted to do. All of the education professors did a wonderful job of
teaching me what I needed to know to be successful. Even at times when I
felt bogged down with work, I can see now why all of it was given. Plus,
spending my Saturday's writing lesson plans now seems just like a normal
thing to do!
What advice would you give to a
current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or
Make a list of all the interesting strategies, tips, tools, lessons,
materials or anything that you think you could use or would like to have
in your classroom. This will come in handy when you are actually
teaching and want to use some of those things. One thing I would
recommend is coming up with a behavior management plan that works. Most
elementary school students still need this structure, even in the upper
grades. Also, learn as much as you can about teaching students with
special needs, since that is a major part of any teaching job. I work
closely with special education teachers every single day. The
school I teach at has a high number of students with IEP's. The more you
know about best meeting the individual needs of these students, the
better teacher you will be.
What job search tips would you
give to GCC students?
First, stop stressing about it. I know you are, because I definitely was
when I was looking for jobs. I know the economy is not great, but there
are teaching jobs out there. You just have to know where to look for
them. Be open to a variety of options, and don't just get stuck on
wanting one particular job in one particular place. Look in areas where
you maybe otherwise wouldn't. You may not necessarily end up living near
where you grew up or near Grove City, but that is ok. Remember, you
don't have to stay there forever. Even if you shouldn't stress about it,
be proactive. Start looking into districts you are interested in and make a
list of the ones that you want to apply to. Start working on your resume
and cover letter. If you are thinking about going straight to grad
school, research programs that appeal to your interests. I know it seems like
you are too busy to do this, but believe me, it will be much less
stressful in the long run. Additionally, please make use of Education
Career Services. I am not just saying this because I have to, I really
mean it. They offer so many valuable opportunities for jobs and for the
job search. Mrs. Snyder is wonderful and an amazing resource. Go talk to
her-- that is what she is there for. Without her, and without ECS, I
would not have the job I have now. My final tip: look into Fairfax
County Public Schools! We always need more wonderful teachers!