David Albee, Porters Point School Kindergarten teacher
When did you realize you wanted to teach?
Teaching younger children was never something I planned on doing. I was working in a school as a classroom aide, thinking of it as an interim job to pay the bills while I figured out my next step. Much to my surprise, I discovered how much I enjoyed my interactions with the students and decided that being a teacher should be my next step.
If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do instead?
My undergraduate background was in comparative religion. For a country that has a foundation of religious liberty, Americans have very little understanding and knowledge of different religious traditions and how they are tied to cultural identities. I would probably be teaching in higher education, helping others to understand this often-neglected aspect of a pluralistic society. I would also like to become fluent in Spanish.
What’s your favorite aspect of teaching?
There is a strong bond that develops between student and teacher during the school year, especially when working with kindergarteners. In addition, we help kindergarteners to form strong bonds with each other. I love the way a group dynamic develops, with students understanding themselves as a WE and not just a ME.
If you could change something about the education system, what would it be?
Education as a whole is caught up in the rat race of neoliberal economics, where people are often reduced to consumers and producers. I would love to see it return to more humanistic roots, where there is time to grow and develop at a more natural rate, asking the kinds of questions that give life meaning and purpose.
What is your favorite book?
Words Under The Words, selected poems Naomi Shihab Nye
What would your students be surprised to learn about you? (i.e. hidden talents, hobbies, etc…)
I love to ride skateboards and snowboards. I was stalked by a mountain lion and lived in a tipi frequented by rattlesnakes, scorpions, and poisonous spiders in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure meal or dessert?
I love Indian food. Growing up, my best friend’s mother was from Tamil Nadu and would often cook for me. It enabled me to see food as a form of cultural pride, affection, and nurturing. Eating Indian food reminds me of this time in my life.
Describe a moment when you really connected with a student.
The first child I worked with in a school worked his way out of an alternative program and back into a general classroom. I became his mentor for several years after that through a local mentoring organization.
What is a difficult aspect of teaching?
There is so much to cover and so little time. People think of kindergarten as lots of play, naps, and recess. It is filled with academics. We have to cover the academic material in a way that is developmentally appropriate. At the same time we have to help young learners transition to a full day of school with all the accompanying social learning that goes along with it. Kindergarten is its own unique grade with its own unique challenges.
What song do you know all of the lyrics to?
I really enjoyed the last U2 album that came out last year. I can sing it all by heart. I write a lot of songs with my students. People assume that I consume a lot of music media outside of school, but I really don’t. I much prefer quiet unless I’m taking a road trip.
What current trends among your students are baffling to you and why?
The days of Sesame Street are long gone. Since it has gone to cable and students are consuming all sorts of other media, they don’t seem to have as much uppercase letter knowledge when they start school. Sesame Street was big in teaching some of that rote memorization that prepared them for school.
What makes you proud to work in the Colchester School District?
The people with whom I work are dedicated professionals who care about the children they teach. They have a phenomenal sense of public service and are invested in the community.