Name: Ms. Benjamin
School: High School
Class: Technical Math and Computer Science, Math Modeling with Technology and Algebra 1
Q: How long have you been a teacher? Have you taught elsewhere (besides WCSD)?
A: Teaching is actually my second career. Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked as an Operations Manager and Human Resource Manager in the garment district in New York City. I have been teaching for over fifteen years. My experience includes positions teaching on the elementary, middle, and high school levels. I worked in Washingtonville Middle School for seven years and this is my eighth year teaching in Washingtonville High School. I have also taught Marketing, Advertising, Statistics, and Math courses for SUNY Orange, SUNY Dutchess, SUNY New Paltz, and Bard College. My education experience also includes positions teaching in both medium-security and maximum-security men’s prisons. Most recently, I completed training to become an online math teacher for the Virtual High School.
Teaching is my passion; it is where I belong. I believe in my students, even when they do not believe in themselves, and I enjoy the challenge of finding the best instructional fit to helping them reach their full potential. Hence, my preference and expertise is in working with students who find math difficult.
Q: What is something you enjoy doing (when you are not teaching)?
A: Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my beautiful daughter - she is my pride and joy - she is my everything. It doesn’t really matter what we are doing, I am happy just to be with her. We enjoy spending quality time with our family, including all of my nieces and nephews. We are annual pass holders to Walt Disney World, Hershey Park, and Sesame Place. My daughter and I love to travel (visit new places, experiences new things, take flights, and stay in hotels). We are huge theater enthusiasts. She and I love to attend all kinds of shows, including Broadway shows in New York City.
Q: This year, what is something you will be teaching that has always been fun or a topic that your class has always enjoyed in the past?
A: I will be incorporating the Engineering Design Process into my classes again this year. In the past, students have enjoyed the Bridge Building Challenge and I plan to do that again this year. Students enjoy building bridges out of toothpicks as part of the challenge, but they also learn about teamwork, budgeting, accounting, finances, planning, scale drawings and blueprints, and the engineering design process. They seem to enjoy competing with each other to build the strongest bridge. I am always impressed with their designs and how strong they prove to be. It is an exciting project, both for the teachers and the students, and I am looking forward to it.
Last year I developed a linear functions project based on pizza prices. I am planning to do it again and expand the project this year to include a web quest based on local pizza prices. The best part of it is that we will be eating pizza in math class when we do it!
Q: How are you using technology in your classroom this year?
A: This year I am teaching a new class called Technical Math and Computer Science. It has helped me challenge myself and grow professionally. It has been an exciting opportunity to learn lots of new things as a teacher. Some of the technology I use in my classes includes: Google Classroom; Google Apps such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms; Hyper Docs; Web Quests; and many online learning applications/sites. In addition, I am using robotics, computer coding, 3D computers and applications, 3D printing, and other technologies such as Ozobots and Little Bits. Many of these things are new to me, but I am committed to learning them to create engaging, interesting, and motivating learning experiences for my students. Most importantly, this new Tech Math course has afforded me the opportunity to create and develop math learning experiences that will, hopefully, change students’ mindsets about mathematics. My goal is for them to leave my class feeling a little bit better about math and identifying and appreciating the ways in which math relates to real-life - yes, it really does. :-)
Q: Who is your role model and why?
A: My most important role model was my Mom. She instilled in me a fighting spirit. She raised me to have an open mind and to believe that I can do anything I set my mind to. Because of her, I am strong, determined, persistent, and I know that I can do anything I want to. Some things may be more difficult for me to accomplish, but I know that I can do it if I keep trying. She always pushed me to take chances and experience new things. And when I made the wrong choices, she was always there to guide me, support me, and motivate me to try again. I am thankful for the person she raised me to be and I will be forever grateful that she got to see my biggest dream come true - becoming a Mom myself.
Q: Anything else you would like your students to know about you?
A: One thing people may not know about me is that I enjoy expressing myself artistically. I love drawing, cake decorating, and poetry. I think it is appropriate to share a poem here, as it is a good representation of the kind of teacher I aspire to be.
"If" for Teachers
If you can see your students
as diamonds in the rough
Inspiring them to do their best
and not just good enough
If you can open doorways
light sparks and keep them glowing
And see the love of learning
as seeds that you are sowing
If you can keep on caring and
remember why you teach
You'll give your students wings to fly
and show them stars to reach.
~ Author Unknown
Q: What advice would you give to your students to remember after they have graduated High School?
A: Life is short - enjoy it! You will define what it means to be successful in your life. You can spend a lot of time and effort running in the “rat race” earning degrees, climbing to the top of your chosen career, and making lots of money. In the end, none of these things will matter. I’ve always liked the sayings: “Don’t live to work, work to live” and “Don’t count the days, make the days count”. Choose something you are passionate about, something that means something to you. Take risks, take chances, experience different things, be open to growing as a person (do it for you, not for anyone else). The more open you are to learning and experiencing new things in life, the more rich the opportunities will be for your to grow as a person. Sometimes the most uncomfortable and most difficult things in life are the ones that shape the people we are and allow us the opportunity to grow. In the end, it is the people you love and the love you receive in return that will be your legacy. Finally, whatever path you choose to take, don’t ever let anyone hold you back. Believe in yourself and you can do anything you set your mind to!