New Year, New Faces, New Teachers


Ms. Maxwell is the Newcomers teacher. She likes Central because “of how diverse Central is. There is so many kids, from so many different places. I like to see everyone learning and grow together.” When asked how she helps her students learn, she responded, “My students are new to the our country. They know very little English, so we spend a lot of time practicing the English they need to succeed in the regular classrooms.” When asked what “middle school” means to her, she said, “Middle schoolers are learning who they are, they’re deciding what they believe about a lot of things, and they’re just growing a whole lot. It’s a lot of fun to get to see kids grow so much from 6th grade to 8th grade!” Why do you like teaching? “I like seeing kids discover new things and figure out how those new things are important to them.” What’s the best subject you’ve ever taught? “My favorite lesson is “States of Matter.” We made oobleck, where you get to talk about whether it’s solid or liquid and how it’s all those things at the same time.” If you were not a teacher, what would you be? “I would be a summer camp director and spend all of my time outside.” What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at school? “I like to explore coffee shops in Kansas City. I also play on a couple of sports teams, I hang out with my friends and my dog.” What should be on a teacher’s MUST List: “Welcoming all their kids, starting every day new, giving everyone a new chance everyday.”

Ms. Perez is the 7th/8th grade science teacher. She likes Central because “it is 90% Hispanic, which is so unique especially in this area. I wanted to work here because I am Hispanic. I value learning because, if I did not value learning and pursue my education, I would not be here teaching today. I come from Wyandotte County and my parents are working class. I saw how hard it was for them and I think getting an education is the way out of this neighborhood if you want to be successful.” How does she help students learn? “I try to be patient. I also give wait time, which is waiting for students to answer.” What does “middle school” mean? “Middle school is a big transition time, they’re coming from elementary, which is really hard, or they’re about to transition from 8th grade to high school. Add to that, a lot of hormones going on. It is a hard time.” Why does she like teaching? ” I like teaching because of all the times when they finally get it–they finally understand. Also, seeing students enjoy science.” Why do you like teaching science? “I really like our lab days. My best lesson is about metamorphosis when I was in a pre-school classroom and hearing them talk about butterflies versus larva and we also created an observatory. It was really cool! They were so excited!” If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do? “I would probably still be doing my original plan–I was going to be a physical therapist. When I was applying for medical school, I decided to work as a substitute teacher and that’s when I found out I didn’t want to be a doctor–I actually wanted to be a teacher!” What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at school? “I love watching movies. I haven’t been able to as much lately, but I did watch “It 2!” this weekend and it was amazing!” What should be on a teacher’s MUST List” “Pencils and food to give my students!”

Ms. Gittenger is the 7th grade ELA teacher. “I like Central’s students and teachers. I get to teach some really cool kids and I get to work with some really cool people.” Why do you value learning? “I grew up in a house that valued education. My mom is a 4th grade teacher. Teaching just runs in my blood. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.” How do you make learning exciting in your classroom? “I try to be both challenging AND fun. I really have high expectations. I can be really strict, but I also try to be really fun so my students want to be in class.” What does ‘middle school’ mean to you? “Middle school means change. There’s a lot of change happening this age and I think that’s what makes teaching middle school more fun than the other grades.” What do you enjoy the most about teaching? “I love to read and I like writing, so English Language Arts is a good fit for me. I also like the students I get to work with–they’re sassy and smart-alecky, but they’re also fun!” What’s the best lesson you’ve ever taught? “The best is ‘That Fair Isn’t Equal and Equal Isn’t Fair.” If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do? “I would probably be a full-time fitness instructor.” What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not a school? “I’m usually working out. I do a lot of rock climbing and yoga. Or I’m eating.” What should be on a teacher’s MUST List: “Classroom management and books!”

Mr. Todd is an 8th grade math teacher. what do you like about central middle so far? “So far I like the teachers that I’m working with and I enjoy working with the students, it’s a big change for me going from high school to middle school.” Why do you value education? “I value education because it all has to do with your income potential. The less education you got, the less income potential you have in your life and I want students to be able to understand that the higher the education level they have, the more money they can make.” How do you help your students learn? “To me, you build a relationship so that there is a trust both ways and then I push ’em. Doesn’t mean I push them off a cliff. I want them to do more than they think they can do, so  when I talk about pushing, I’m going to make them go past where they think they are comfortable to learn more than they thought they can possibly do” What does middle school mean to you? “Middle school to me means it’s transition period. Your out of elementary school, away from all the little kids and all that kind of stuff, but you are not yet ready for high school and to me middle school should be not only learning but it should also be a place where there is maturing going on. Student should be transition their thinking, their life , their actions to a point where they are ready to participate with kids in a high school.” Why do you like teaching? “this is my second career and I like teaching, I grew up in this area, and I want to change people’s live’s in a positive way, that’s a reason I got into teaching. My wife is a teacher in the district at John Fisk elementary that is not far from here. She been teaching for 18 years” what do you enjoy the most?” I think that the most thing that I enjoy I never know what a day  is going to be like. You come in, you gotta plan, and you you think ‘ this is going to happen, and this is going to happen’ and then everything gets changed with everything that  happens in the building, not necessarily negative but something that happens. Students aren’t maybe in the mood to learn or do what you have planned and so you gotta kinda shift things a little bit. I enjoy everyday I come in everyday and everyday is different.” what is the best lesson you’ve ever taught? “I think the best lesson I’ve ever taught was that it doesn’t matter where, I dealt with seniors when I was in Washington before I came in central , It doesn’t matter where you grow up, what your parents do, anybody has the chance to be able to reach what they feel in their mind a sucess, and what I try to do, and its all a part of the lessons that I teach I try to teach the student to understand that its in your hands.  Its the students ability, the students investment of time, its the students investment in their education, that determines how far you can go not the world.  I grew up very poor and I was the first person in my family to ever graduate from highschool, first one to ever graduate from collage, and you can go from nothing and from a bad situation to being something in the world that makes you happy, and makes you feel successful.” If you wern’t a teacher what would you do? “I would stay in teaching I taught at UMKC for a while, if I was going to do something different other than teaching middle school I would probably go back to teaching collage, so I enjoy teaching in collage, I enjoy teaching middle school more but I enjoy teaching in collage.”  What do you like to do outside of school?  ” I like to play golf, I love sports so I’ll watch sports on tv but, I am a big avid golfer I like to play golf, and I like to spend time with my wife.”  What should be on a teachers must list? “I think what should be on a teacher must list is , no matter what a student does maybe a negative way no matter how upset you get at what a student does the next day is gonna be a do over, you gotta forget what happened, you gotta adress it, then, its done, its over with. The next day when the student walks back in the classroom you just gotta start all over, and I think if a teacher doesn’t do that then there is a problem.