1. Can you tell us a little about your background and how long have you been a teacher at St. John School?
I am one of four children from upstate NY. I earned my bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College in Education & Music; and my master’s degree from the State University at Albany in Reading & Ed Psychology. This is my second year of teaching K3 at SJS, and my tenth year of teaching elementary education. Prior to SJS, I taught first grade and kindergarten in a NYS public school district outside of Saratoga Springs, NY.
2. What attracted you to teaching?
I love working with young children and I have always wanted to be a teacher. As a child, I converted one of the rooms in my house to be a mock classroom. There, I would play teacher with my siblings and friends. As a kindergarten student, I wrote a story about “Julie the Teacher”. My mother saved it for me, and I later utilized it in my kindergarten classroom to launch my “Writers’ Workshop”. My students got such a kick out of my primitive handwriting and it truly motivated them to be the best writers they could be!
3. What is most rewarding about being a teacher?
Being a primary teacher, I get such excitement when an emergent student “cracks the code” and begins reading. I start off the academic year with, “But, Mrs. Daley… I don’t know how to read.” Later in the spring, I would hear that same student say, “Mrs. Daley! Guess what? I’m a reader!” Seeing my students’ faces light up and hearing the excitement in their voices is such a treat for me as an educator.
4. What is one thing you wish someone had told you before you started your first day of teaching?
My very first day of teaching first grade, I wore a cute pencil skirt and high heels. Big mistake. My feet and back were so sore from squatting and conferencing with the students as they worked independently at their table spots. Not to mention the disturbing, “clack, clack” of my heels on the hard wood floor as the students worked quietly. I’ve also learned that it’s a challenge to sit like a pretzel on the rug in a short skirt. I always encourage my student teachers to wear comfortable teaching shoes and pants to sit, “crisscross, applesauce” in.
5. What’s the newest, freshest approach you are bringing to your job as a St. John teacher?
I am a huge advocate of Richard and Rebecca DuFour’s, “Professional Learning Communities”. The PLC model focuses more on the learning rather than the teaching. It encourages teachers to work together more as a team, and utilize each other’s skill sets to better instruct the students. I used this model in my previous school, and it promoted a profound sense of team collaboration, which in return, lead to greater levels of student success.
6. What is the most hardest thing about being a teacher?
For me, the biggest challenge of being a teacher is the ability to separate your professional life from your personal life. As an educator, I wear different hats. At school, I wear my “Mrs. Daley” hat. At home, I wear my “Julia ” hat. It’s important for me to leave my personal life at the door every morning as I enter my classroom. At the end of the day, I switch hats and try to leave my professional life here at school. I strongly feel that there needs to be this dichotomy; otherwise your personal/professional issues can be a disservice to the students or to your family.
7. What is something your students have taught you?
Being a Virgo, my primary students have certainly taught me to be more patient and remain flexible. If something doesn’t go exactly according to plan, it’s okay. You have to learn to roll with it, especially when it comes to students’ learning. I like my students to be in the drivers seat.
8. What do you like to do in your free time and why do you enjoy doing it?
I am a cellist and grew up in a very musical family. My great grandfather studied music under the tutelage of Johannes Brahms. Classical music runs through my veins. I also enjoy traveling and learning from other cultures. I have been to New Zealand, Italy, France, Brunei, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Canada and Costa Rica. Next on my list, is a visit to Germany and the UK. I also find swimming to be very relaxing. I used to compete in college, and coached a swim club for several years back in Saratoga.
9. What’s your favorite funny story about yourself?
I openly admit that I have no sense of direction. My Garmin, whom I’ve nicknamed Daphne, is the best copilot a girl like me could ask for. Years ago, while visiting New Orleans with my sister and we got lost. While behind the wheel, she asked, “How do we get to the French Quarter from here?” After studying the map intensely for several minutes, I relied “Um, you can’t get there from here.” My lack of direction has been an ongoing joke in my family ever since.
10. What was your favorite toy (or game) as a child, and why?
I loved to play water games as a child. My family has a lake house in the Adirondacks. My siblings and I were water rats. We would spend our entire summer days swimming, sailing, kayaking and water skiing. It was a great way to beat the heat, keep in shape, and stay out of trouble.