Sofsian motivated by students' hunger for knowledge

May. 04, 2013 @ 04:37 PM

Kerri Sofsian’s favorite thing about being a teacher is to witness the hunger for knowledge that she sees in her students.

“Elementary students come in with a hunger to learn and are easily motivated and willing to be pushed to that next level,” she said.

Sofsian, the 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year, said it’s the unknown that makes teaching such a challenge

“Everyday is different. You never know what curve ball is going to be thrown at you,” she said. “Someone loses a tooth, another passes the problem solving assessment you’ve been working on so hard with her, skinned knees, finding that perfect book to turn a student into a lifelong reader. There is just never a dull moment and the day just flies by.”

Her first-grade students at Kensington Elementary have no problem telling you what they like best about Mrs. Sofsian. The answer is pretty much, every thing.

“Mrs. Sofsian is really nice and she’s fun,” said 7-year-old Hailey Araujo. “She gives us fun stuff to do. Every time she gives us math, she gives us hard stuff, but she goes around and helps us. She makes sure we have all the right things.”

Caden Crotty, another 7-year-old first grader, said Sofsian challenges him. “I like to be challenged,” he said. “I like when stuff is harder. I like solving problems. It makes me happy.”

Her favorite thing about teaching is watching her students get it. The greatest challenge facing teachers today are the number of “new initiatives and mandates being thrown at teachers with very little being taken away from our plates.”

“We are no longer merely teachers of children. We wear every hat imaginable,” she added. “We have to keep the focus on why we are in the classroom...the kids. With the implementation of the State Common Core Standards, our teaching must have even more rigor and purpose. We must rise to the occasion if we expect our students to do the same.”

As for meeting the needs of her students, Sofsian said she is a big proponent of keeping lots of data on all of her students

“I keep a ridiculous amount of data, informal and formal, on all of my students. Teaching isn’t limited to a grade level. It is my job to know my students’ strengths and weaknesses in all subject areas. Then I take that data to develop ways to meet them where they are and grow them as much as possible the 180 days I have with them.”

Sofsian said “differentiation” is the only way to accomplish this goal. “I do a great deal of flexible, small-group instruction in order to meet the needs of my students. I am fortunate to have a wonderful teacher assistant (Jill Mitchell) and several parent volunteers who help me help each child meet their individual goals. We make sure to take time to celebrate our learning along the way.”

When all is said and done, Sofsian said she wants her students to remember her as that teacher who made them realize how fun and exciting reading and learning really could be.

“I hope they remember how we always tried new and innovative ways to grow as learners...KidBlog, Vocaroo, ebooks, Google Earth. Most importantly, I hope my students remember me as a teacher who cares about them and will be there for them as a mentor and a cheerleader as they learn their way to college and adulthood.”

 

This article was written by Deb Coates Bledsoe, Union County Public Schools Communications Coordinator and provided courtesy of the UCPS Communications Office.