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Staff Spotlights: Erica Schank and Wislande Pierre

Staff Spotlights: Erica Schank and Wislande Pierre
Posted on 11/08/2016
ericaStaff Spotlight: Erica Schank

What do you do at G&P?
I teach in a first and second grade looping classroom.

How long have you been at G&P?
This is my 7th year teaching, but my first year teaching at Graham and Parks!

Where are you from?
West Hartford, Connecticut

What is your favorite item in your classroom?
The bathtub! I have an antique bathtub filled with pillows for students to read in. It gets students excited about reading and has a wonderful story behind it! My mom taught kindergarten for over 30 years and has been my biggest inspiration as an educator. It was always her dream to have a reading tub in her classroom. One of her students' families surprised her with the bathtub after her second year teaching! The bathtub brought joy to many students, for many years in CT. When she retired a few years ago, the bathtub traveled to my first grade classroom in MA! Now the bathtub is here at Graham and Parks and will bring joy to many more students for years to come!

How did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
I have known I wanted to be a teacher since the age of 5. I used to teach my stuffed animals (and younger brother) lessons in the living room! Since before I can remember, I would visit my mom's classroom and remember the enthusiasm for learning that her students exhibited. I also feel grateful that I went to a progressive elementary school which emphasized teaching the arts and creativity. I will never forget my principal (Dr. K) and music teacher (Mr. Hugh) who greatly impacted my life. Dr.K and Mr. Hugh helped me discover my voice, strengths and confidence. They fostered my love of learning and created a school environment where students were encouraged to think outside of the box. They not only helped me shape my views as an educator, but also instilled values in me that are the core of who I am today. I can only aspire to make the same impact on the lives of my students!

What do you love about G&P?
I am a creative person and value teaching to the whole child. I am most excited about the learning expeditions and projects at Graham and Parks. Graham and Parks' mission statement reminds me of the mission of the wonderful elementary school that I went to growing up!


wislandeStaff Spotlight: 
Wislande Pierre

What do you do at G&P?
I teach fourth grade in Room 214 (The Superstars) with the lovely & inspiring Karen Engels. I am also a caregiver to Aidan (5th gr.) and Chloe (1st gr.) Mc Ferran who I share my wonderful afternoons with.

How long have you been at G&P?
I started working at G&P in 2011 as a temp job in the 3/4 SEI classroom with Ms. Cynthia. That year I also worked in G&P's Learning Center teaching math to grades 3-5. In 2012, Karen Engels approached me on the playground asking what my plans were for the upcoming school year, I told her I didn't have any plans. Before I knew it, I was part of this fantastic community as a full time teacher which made me feel secured and content.

Where are you from?
My parents are from Haiti and came to the United States in the early 70s. I was born and raised in Cambridge, but went to Catholic schools until high school in Somerville. I grew up on Brookline St. (next door to Judy Lazarus) and lived there for 25 years, then my family and I moved around the corner to my grandmother's house on Allston St, until she decided to move back to Haiti permanently and sell the house. Cambridge has been a part of my life for about 29 years until I moved to Somerville in 2010. Cambridge will always have a place in my heart.

What are three things every teacher should know?
Every teacher should know...Take one day at a time; Every child brings their own personality into the classroom which makes it a fun environment to be a part of; Patience is definitely a virtue.

What profession other than your own would you most like to attempt?
Since I am such a chatter, I think attempting to be a talk show hostess would definitely be something I would love to try. I have such a strong personality and enjoy voicing my opinion often, and love to know what's going on around me at all times :) As a talk show host you also have a team of stylists, makeup artists who work hard to make you look amazing in front of a camera, instead of you doing it yourself.

How did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
This is one of my favorite questions. My dad was a teacher in Haiti before moving to the United States, and I enjoyed listening to his stories about his former students. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was about 7 years old. Since I am the oldest between my sister and cousin, I made them play school with me after school and on the weekends. Last weekend, my cousin and I were reminiscing about our childhood, he mentioned how fun and tiring it was playing school with me since I would make up school work and homework for them to do before having recess. I have such a large family, full of cousins around my age and anytime they came over to play, they knew that all I wanted to do was play school. I knew teaching was going to be the career path I wanted to lead. Teaching has always been a passion of mine and I am thrilled that I can share my passion with other colleagues.