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Staff Spotlights: Feb. 2017

Staff Spotlights: February 2017
Posted on 02/16/2017
valarieStaff Spotlight: Valarie Ifill

What do you do at G&P? 

I hold several positions at G&P. In the morning I supervise children in the cafeteria before classes begin and oversee the Safety Patrol 5th graders; I then go to Room 228 and work as an Assistant Teacher for SEI 3rd grade students; I work as an Assistant teacher with the ELL After School Enrichment Program on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; I watch the children of parents who attend Steering Committee meetings the second Thursday of each month and finally, for the past four years I have packed food on Friday mornings for the Weekend Back Pack Program.

How long have you been at G&P?
My daughter, Autumn, attended G&P from JK – 8th grade. I began volunteering in Autumn's Kindergarten classroom and the library at Upton Street in 2002. I started working as the Breakfast Monitor in 2007, Lunch Aide in 2008 and a SEI 2/3 Assistant Teacher in 2015.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Describe your all-time favorite lesson/unit activity.
My all-time favorite lesson/unit activity is the science of Rocks and Minerals. I love watching the children explore the characteristics of Rocks and Minerals, discuss their observations and satisfy their general curiosity.

How did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
Although I pursued a legal career I have always had a passion for teaching. I began tutoring children in English and Math in the Boston Public School system when I was a Junior at Dana Hall. At Carleton College, I tutored students in Spanish, English and Math. When I attended Antioch school of Law, I taught Real and Personal property law to first year law students and tutored Howard College students in English writing and composition. While I practiced Administrative law I made it my mission to educate people about their rights in whatever position I held. I always felt fulfilled when the students I engaged with "got it". In addition to the forgoing, I worked for the Agenda for Children for the City of Cambridge where I enabled parents to prepare their children to enter Kindergarten able to read and write and I worked several years as a Special Needs Home Based Visitor for CPS where I implemented IEPs for children with developmental delays. It wasn't until my daughter graduated from 8th grade at G&P that I realized that I wanted to be part of the teaching profession and that I wanted to teach at G&P in particular.

Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
Mrs. Delaney was my favorite teacher in high school because she was a caring and nurturing teacher who went out of her way to understand the individual circumstances of each student she taught. She addressed the social and emotional needs of her students and was always there to support students in or out of school.

nicoleStaff Spotlight: Nicole Torniero

What do you do at G&P?
I am a literacy and math interventionist. I work with students one-on-one and in small groups across all grade levels at Graham and Parks. I'm lucky to work with so many wonderful children!

How long have you been at G&P?
I have been at G&P since November 2016.

Where are you from?
I am originally from southern Connecticut, but I've lived in Massachusetts for 20 years! I now live in Watertown, MA.

What profession other than your own would you most like to attempt?
I would love to be an event planner! I love decorating, am very detail-oriented, and who doesn't enjoy a good party!

What is an interesting fact about you?
I am the founder of Children First Wellness. I teach children's yoga and fitness classes. It's a lot of fun!

Teaching motto or favorite education quote?
"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." –Aristotle

Describe your all-time favorite lesson/unit activity.
Before coming to G&P, I taught second grade. After reading the book Flat Stanley, the students wrote letters to friends and family members all around the world! They sent blank outlines of Flat Stanley along with their letters, and the recipients dressed Stanley up and took him all around their hometown. Then, they sent Stanley back to us along with letters, photos, and even gifts! We received clementines from Florida, beads from New Orleans, peaches from Georgia...even souvenirs from Rome, Paris, and London! The students used a world map to keep track of Stanley's travels. They loved learning about so many different cultures!