Teacher Spotlight on Mrs. Nash
Grades Taught: Junior Academy (7/8)
Subjects Taught: English Language Arts
Years teaching: Going on 14
Years at Telesis: 8
Bachelor of Science – Major: Visual Arts, Minor: Psychology (NDSU)
Post Baccalaureate – CalStateTEACH (CSU)
Renaissance Training (AR) – JA-Academy
AR goals/tracking 7-12
NHS/NHJS faculty council
After school tutoring/study hall – Tues-Thurs
Thinking Maps Training
Key Club Advisor
ELA curriculum map training and tracking – K-12
CKH – Process Champion training & planning
Paraprofessional – all subjects – grades 3-5 – 3 yrs I
Internship (independent classroom/certificated teacher) – ELA, social studies, PE – grade 6/7/8 combination class – 1 yr
CA Multi-subject SB 2042 – SDAIE embedded (specially designed academic instruction in English)
Q. Why did you become a teacher?
A. I started as a volunteer at a school in Parker Dam, CA, where my kids went to school. Then I ended up becoming a part-time aide. Soon after, I was a paraprofessional with my own classroom. The school administration talked to me about going after my teaching credential shortly thereafter.
It just sort of happened. I would have never dreamed that I would be a teacher. In my adolescence, I would have laughed at you if you would have told me that I was going to be a teacher. It’s karma, in a way.
Prior to my teaching experience in Parker Dam, I taught K-12 art at the school that my children went to in Eagle Mountain, CA.
Q. Why do you like teaching?
A. It’s cliché, but – it’s the kids. It’s the only reason. I don’t like the nights and weekends grading papers and planning. Most people don’t understand all the other things that come along with teaching; things that don’t have anything to do with grading papers and planning — but yes, it’s the kids, every time. They are awesome.
Q. How does the profession give back to you when teachers give so much?
A. It’s not about what it gives back to me, it’s what the kids give back. You form a relationship with those kids. It’s not even about the “a-ha!’ moment. It’s the changing of lives. I have the ability to change these kids’ lives and they are with me forever.
I still have contact with students whom I taught 15 years ago. Some of them have emailed me back to say, “You didn’t know this in the classroom at the time, but I am going to be an English teacher” or “I am going to be a journalist.” It’s those conversations that let me know that I’ve made a difference for those kids.
Q. When your prior students come back to visit, what kind of conversations are happening? What are they saying?
A. A lot of them say they miss this classroom and that it looks just the same. They say they miss the smell – they say it always smelled so good in here. They’ll also look at the current 7th graders and ask, “Were we that small?” I love that.
They really just tell me what they are doing. I think they feel comfortable. They miss being here and they miss talking to teachers with whom they’ve formed a relationship. They want to tell me about their lives and what they’re doing now.
I just ran into a kid at the grocery store. He was this big brawny kid and he kept looking at me. He finally said, “Mrs. Nash?” I realized who he was – the facial hair threw me – and he approached me to tell me that he is going into the Marines. He was so proud.
You know what my past students love to do? They love to change things on my board, like my quotes. They will change it to be grammatically incorrect. They do it because they know it will drive me crazy. But you know what? The joke is on them because that tells me that they understand the grammar & punctuation. It shows me that if they can change it to be incorrect, then they know the correct way to write it.
Q. What is your favorite thing about teaching language arts?
A. Clearly, I love stories and reading, but the best part of it for me is that I am helping students to become better communicators and hitting home why it is important. Communication is in everything you do.
I like helping students understand how important it is to have decent handwriting, to write in grammatically correct sentences, and to spell correctly. I want them to understand how much of a difference that makes when you’re an adult and a potential employer is looking at your resume. Two people might have the same qualifications, but if one resume is written well and the other has bad grammar and spelling, I know who I would hire. If you can’t communicate, and communicate well, it can change a person’s impression of you. You can have the best ideas in the whole world, but you must communicate those ideas effectively in order for others to take you seriously and listen.
I like knowing that I am improving these kids’ communication skills.
Q. What’s the most important thing you want your students to take away from you or your class?
A. Confidence in their abilities. Positivity. My goal is to help create a self-learner. It’s not just about the commas, and the periods, and so-forth, but I am not the “caretaker kind.” What I mean is, I release responsibility to them. I want my students to know that I am there to help them to understand how to come to the answer. I am not just going to give them the answer. I am a really big believer in that because a student who develops good critical thinking skills and becomes a self-learner will be a functional adult.
My philosophy with every one of these kids is, “Don’t worry about getting perfect, just keep getting better.” I don’t care where you are right now, I want to see growth every time we do an assessment or another assignment. It’s not about being perfect and I don’t need that 100% — I want to see that you improved from the last time. That’s probably the biggest thing I push and that’s with everything – their assignments, their behavior, their attention focus, and with their treatment of each other.
Did you know brains grow more during adolescence than when you’re three-years-old? It can be referred to as “Play-Doh brain.” I am helping to form their behavior, confidence, and skills, for the future. I am molding the clay. I know I can make a huge impact, if it’s done right.
Q. Why do you think Capturing Kids’ Hearts is important?
A. It’s about mutual respect and everything about t is positive. It’s about teaching kids to represent themselves and to become professional little beings. Again, it’s molding them into little adults.
It’s also about creating that relationship. “If you don’t have their hearts, you don’t have their minds.” It’s true. The biggest part of that philosophy is that students know I genuinely care, and this is a little family. If they know I care, they tend to care back.
They also know that the bar is high with my expectations.
Q. Who inspires you?
A. You know, not one of my teachers made an impression on me and, in turn, that inspires me to be a better teacher.
I was a good student, but I wasn’t a great kid in school because nobody noticed I was in that classroom. They didn’t even notice if I was gone. To me, that is the biggest disservice that could happen to any kid. I wasn’t the kid who caused trouble, but I wasn’t the kid who raised my hand all the time. I was just the quiet kid in the corner who got good grades – and nobody noticed. Nobody noticed if I was there or not. So that probably makes more of an impact on my teaching – the teachers that I don’t remember – because they didn’t take the time to get to know me.
Q. So, you want to be the teacher that you never had?
A. Absolutely. It’s the badly-behaved kids or the really good kids who get all of the attention, right? But they should all be known for the individuals that they are. They should all be noticed and that goes back to Capturing Kids’ Hearts. At that door, I am going to say, “I’m so glad you’re back” because that’s really important for a kid to hear.
Q. What is your favorite thing about teaching at Telesis?
A. Definitely small class size and the people I work with. The people that support me constantly and trust me with what I can do. There are people who work really hard to get new books for my kids and they have no idea what it means to the kids.
The fact that we have computers, and technology, and people who help keep it running. There is awesome support. There are blips in the road, but I like where I work.
My daughter went to Telesis and this was a great school for her. It was important to me that my daughter had an excellent education here and had incredible, personalized support at every level– to the point where she became Valedictorian.
She had so many opportunities – from sports, to National Honor Society, to Key Club – she was part of all of it and it was because she was given the opportunity at Telesis. I don’t know if she would have had the opportunity to do all of those things somewhere else.
Q. Has a parent ever said anything that made your day?
A. The parents are usually awesome, but when I have student who moves on to the academy level, and their parents come to me to say, “I am having trouble, can you talk to him/her?” I think that tells me a lot of their comfort level with me and their child, and their belief that what I say to those kids matter. Any parent who has ever taken the time to say, “Thank you,” in any way makes my day!