Inspirational Educators – Stephanie Dunne – I Love Working With Tiny Humans in a Career that I Love!

How long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching for 7 years. I am currently in my first year as a special education preschool teacher.

Why did you choose to teach?

Initially I wanted to be a journalist for a magazine company. I studied journalism my freshman year of undergrad and pictured myself like Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada living in a big city and working in a high rise. However, I also wanted to be a career that helped others, and I had experience doing volunteer work for my high school at my old preschool and at my high school’s annual Special Olympics games. I remember the speaker at the information meeting said that “everyone has a disability, some are just more recognizable than others” and mentioned that her disability was the fact that she was visually impaired and wore glasses. That was almost 14 years ago when she said that and I still remember it! I wanted to combine my love of working with tiny humans and giving those who need it the extra help they deserve. Preschool special education is my passion and I am blessed to be in a career I love.

Many people question if our current education system is working. What do you think?

There is a good reason why so many people question our education system. My fingers would grow tired typing out all the things that are wrong, especially when other countries do it so much better…so there is clearly a right way to do things. I would say the biggest problem in our school system is that the students are the lowest on the priority list. Lawmakers and administration who do not work in schools nor have ever even been a teacher create rules and regulations that do not benefit the individual child.

What would you like to see being taught in our classrooms?

The phrase “it is easier to build a child up than fix a broken adult” is something that when I first heard it, it really resonated with me. As I am getting older I am realizing there are a lot of damaged people who do not know how to properly deal with the issues they face; and there was most likely no one to teach them how. For the population I work with, teaching my students to recognize emotions, state what bothers them, and problem solve and resolve conflict with others is something that will carry them into maturity when they are older. I would like to see more compassion and empathy and understanding taught in our classrooms. As we can see from reading headlines regarding specifically school shootings, mental health is something that is clearly suffering in our country. A student can get straight A’s in calculus or organic chemistry or any other difficult subject, but if he cannot control his emotions, he is not only a danger to himself but to others around him.

If you have been teaching less than five years, do you intend to stay in the profession? Explain your feelings.

I’ve been teaching for 7, so yes I intend to stay in this profession. This job is crazy but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!

Share your proudest teacher moment.

I wouldn’t say there is one particular moment, but any time I can recognize when something with my students really ‘clicks’, it affirms that I am doing my job. It’s the coolest thing to see a child learn and to know that you helped them with that process!

What is the most important message about teaching that you would like People to know?

Teaching truly is a passion. Some days you can’t wait to teach your kids, and other days you’d rather stay under the covers when your alarm goes off. I feel like society appreciates teachers but we don’t fight enough for them. We don’t just teach students for a block of time per day, we are lesson planning after school and on weekends, thinking about useful classroom items when we’re at Target shopping for ourselves…it’s something that really isn’t turned ‘off’ once we leave campus. Preschool teachers are definitely underrated, when we’re the ones with the students who are the most vulnerable and need the most intervention!

How can parents and Educators work together to better to ensure children are successful?

Communication is key in any relationship, and the parent-teacher relationship is no different. A lot of times, things are lost in translation and that’s where things get messy. As long as the teacher provides useful and appropriate communication with her students’ parents, the parents will feel comfortable giving their own feedback. For my own classroom, I have an app where I communicate with parents there and it’s been extremely helpful. For any teachers, I highly recommend the Remind app!
What is the most important educational gift parents can provide for their children to help them be successful learners?
Let children be little. Let them play and have fun. Let them explore and get messy and laugh and be silly. There are a lot of children who are robbed of the innocence of childhood and I wish that more parents and teachers let them be little.

Who is most Inspirational Teacher you’ve had? Why?

I think the most inspirational teacher I had was my freshman Spanish teacher in high school. She taught our class so well that we all advanced to the Honors Spanish 2 class sophomore year. At my high school, in order to be placed in an Honors class, you had to get an A in the class and an A on the final exam. She made language acquisition fun and easy and I think that’s a great example of a good educator. Gracias Senora Head!

How many hours a week do you spend completing all of your duties related to your job. Are there any extra duties that people may find surprising or not consider that you have to complete?

I’d say I spend about 5 extra hours a week doing classroom related duties. Duties that people don’t consider are all the planning we have to do for regular lesson planning, on top of birthdays, holidays, class parties, school events, and balancing our own personal lives!

What do you think is a fair salary for teachers? Keep in mind the argument that celebrities make millions and teachers are always struggling?

I don’t even know where to begin answering that question! However, all I will say is that everyone who is making millions whether it be generated from being a pro athlete, celebrity, or business person had teachers, coaches, and professors along the way who helped them be who they are today.

Have you ever paid for supplies for your classroom?

Ha! I’m about $500 deep in this school year so far 🙂

If you had a wish list of needs for your classroom what would the top three things be?

Cleaning supplies, art supplies, board books.

Please provide your email address if you would like people to contact you to possible help your classroom?

If you would like to help this Inspirational Educator, please contact her here: dunne_stephanie@ausd.us

1 Comment

  1. Ms Dunne was my son’s pre-K teacher. He is hug functioning autism and she was the best thing for him and his self-esteem. She is a wonderful support for our tiny humans! ❤

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