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Teacher Spotlight: Sharmel Issa, 1st grade

Where were you born?

I was born in Provo, Utah and at the age of 19 I moved to Monroe, Utah where I raised my beautiful family for 24 years.

Who was your favorite teacher in school and why?

My favorite teacher was my middle school history teacher, Mr. Rose. He made learning fun and interactive. He never just gave us packets to fill out on our own, but actually taught us and took an interest in each of his students. I remember in most of my classes I felt like just another student sitting in a desk, but Mr. Rose knew each of his students personally. I think the best thing about his class was that he made us laugh every day and we had fun WHILE we were learning!

Why did you decide to be a teacher?

I decided to become a teacher later in life, when I started helping in my own kids' classes. I saw the need for teachers who teach with compassion and a desire to help every child in the classroom. I was making connections with the students and I knew I was making a difference. When I saw that light in their eyes and I knew it was my path in life. Teaching has been my greatest accomplishment, after being a mom and grandma.

What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

My favorite part of teaching is making that personal connection with my students so they know that I truly care about them and want them to succeed. Teaching is so gratifying with all the growth you see throughout the year. Teachers work hard and it is worth every minute when you see your students thriving. I remember sitting at my desk a few months ago and getting tears in my eyes watching my whole class synergize together. I can honestly say there is nothing else I would rather be doing than teaching.

Share an example of when a student had an "Ah-Ha!" moment in your classroom.

There have been many, many Ah-ha moments, but one that touched me deeply was a simple yet very heart felt one. I had a student come from another school who was pretty far behind and his self confidence was very low. He wasn’t reading, and he told me that he couldn't. My students are not allowed to say “I can’t” in my class, because I truly believe that EVERY student can learn in different ways and it is my job to find just the right way to teach them. I worked hard with this student and spent a lot of extra time with him. By the end of the year he was not only reading, but reading above grade level. It was the last month of school and he came to my desk during recess crying. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that he didn’t want school to be over because he would miss me and all the books that we read together. I couldn’t hold the tears back and knew that he would be a life long reader and that I really did make a difference.

What is the most important thing you hope your students take from your class?

The most important thing I hope my students take from my class is that I care personally about each one of them, and because I care so much my expectations are high. I expect a lot of my students and have found that if you set the expectations high, kids will thrive to meet those expectations. If they know you care about them, they want to learn, and in turn are caring to others. I tell my class we are like a family.

What makes Arches Academy so special, and why do you like working here?

Arches Academy is a one-of-a-kind school and I feel so honored to work here. Our philosophies are the same. I believe whole-heartedly in teaching the whole child. You cannot teach to the best of your ability or the students if they do not feel safe and loved. I think social development plays a huge role in teaching and I want to make sure that not only do my students have a strong education, but that they also have social skills and that they always feel safe in my class and at our school. I believe Arches fits the whole child perfectly. In the 7 years I have been here I have made some life long friends, not only with my coworkers, but also the families that go here. I truly feel blessed to get up everyday and have a job that I love, and a school that I love teaching at.

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