Back to School: From a teacher’s perspective |

Back to School: From a teacher’s perspective

Beth Nordby

Teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world. Their work and impact extends far beyond the boundaries of the classroom. They educate and shape our youth. They teach them life skills. Their job takes passion, heart, and commitment.

Below, TTUSD teachers across the district share what they love about teaching.

Beth Nordby, first-grade teacher, Tahoe Lake Elementary

Teaching is what I do, but it is the children – their enthusiasm, their laughter, and their honesty – that inspires me. I am sharing the journey of learning with my students and every day is a new, exciting challenge. As a teacher, I get to be a very special part of a child’s life and see what makes them so special and unique. I love my job at Tahoe Lake Elementary. Our staff works as a close-knit team, and we love our students!

Michelle Reed, kindergarten/first-grade Combo Teacher, Donner Trail Elementary

I love working with students. Their love and curiosity of the environment and living things is a joy to see. They have such warm hearts and beautiful smiles, and it’s incredible to see their strength as they struggle, persevere, and succeed and feel good about what they’re accomplishing. It is so rewarding and they inspire me to be my best!

Danielle Karwowski, sixth-grade teacher, North Tahoe School

One of my favorite things about teaching is empowering students with knowledge and the joy and excitement that learning brings. I love to see the “light bulb moments” in my students as they grow. Sixth-graders are so fun, curious, motivated to learn, opinionated, and awesome and I hope to inspire each of them to be lifelong learners.

Troy Melin, Cold Stream Alternative

Each day offers new challenges and new rewards. I love that I have the potential to leave a positive impact on the lives of my students. It is tremendously gratifying to work with high school students who are taking their first steps into the larger world and possibilities of their futures.

Diane Welch, second and third-grade combo Teacher, SELS

I am passionate about teaching and experiencing the “A-HA’s” from the students give me such joy! I love spending time with kids and getting to know them and helping them celebrate their successes and find strategies to help them overcome their challenges. Pushing students just beyond their comfort zone is when I see the most growth. Seeing students push through difficult assignments and giving them a sense of purpose for their assignments allows me to raise the bar and see them reach their goals on a daily basis.

Jim Bennett, P.E. teacher, Truckee High School

Over the last 19 years, whether it has been as a teacher, high school or little league coach, my biggest joy has been helping kids reach their goals and watch them grow and learn along the way. Every child is different and improves at different levels and paces. But the smiles and the glow they get when they succeed are always huge and very heartwarming. I have taken four years, and as their advisor, I have embraced the mission to help my ASB students be the best people they can be and to be the champions in their personal journeys as they make our school and world a better place.

Jason Flesock, chemistry and business math teacher, North Tahoe High School

Teaching for me is not a job — it is a passion. There are not many professions where each day presents itself with so many opportunities to be a catalyst for change. I see the classroom as a launching pad for inspiring learning, unlocking creativity, instilling critical thinking, and building lasting relationships. Having the chance to have an impact on a student’s life in this way is not something I take for granted, and is something I continuously work hard on being better at every day — even after teaching 13 years.

Jennifer Kavanagh, first-grade teacher, Kings Beach Elementary

My favorite part of teaching is witnessing the moment when students realize what they truly are capable of. Sometimes students arrive in my room at the beginning of the year thinking they can’t read or are “bad” at math or art. I make sure they know that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that trying to solve a single problem eight times is, commendable, not a failure. I get such joy when I see a smile slowly spread across a child’s face, becoming a huge grin, as they read what’s written on the whiteboard without my help for the first time.

Kurt Zapata, science, P.E. and health teacher, Sierra High School

The teaching profession is the most honorable career that I have ever participated in. I wake up every morning excited to go to work. We help prepare students to venture out and find their place in this world. My students teach me as much as I teach them and for this I am grateful.

Michael Arington, technology teacher, Alder Creek Middle School

I love teaching because I love learning. Every day is different and every student learns in a different way. It is a challenge to find the way that best connects with the student so that they can learn. I also love teaching because the students keep me young. I have fun with them and they remind me of how to view the world with open eyes and open minds. Teaching makes me feel part of a community, local and global. I am developing minds of students for them to participate in a community and that gives me a connection.

Sue Mock, science academic coach (District-wide)

Children are natural learners, taking in the world around them and constantly trying to make sense of it. What excites me about education is the many ways teachers connect with their students and constantly strive to provide engaging learning environments to promote student thinking. As a teacher, this provides opportunities to be able to learn the many different ways that students make sense of information and experiences. Students then become our teachers. I never want to stop learning from students!

Terrina Woodard , kindergarten teacher, Glenshire Elementary

I love that my work is child-centered. My students’ needs drive everything I do and my love for learning is as strong as theirs. Education is always changing and evolving, just like my growing students and this profession embraces and celebrates a growth mindset. What a fabulous workplace I have! My communities – my students, their families, the staff at Glenshire, and TTUSD – are inviting, warm and progressive. It’s been an incredible 31 years of teaching and I hope to continue to grow and learn as an educator with my communities.

Anna Davis, second-grade teacher, Truckee Elementary

I have the best job in the whole world and I’ve had it for 34 years! I get to spend six hours a day with kids and witness their learning and growth right before my eyes. I love seeing the light in their eyes and it’s such a wonderful feeling to build connections with students and watch them blossom and become amazing people. I’m getting paid to do something that I so love to do!

Source: Tahoe Truckee Unified School District

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