Congratulations to Susan Alis, 2nd Grade Teacher at Matthew Whaley Elementary School.
Susan Alis was voted Teacher of the Month for January 2017. Mrs. Alis is accepting her gift card and certificate from School Crossing Owner Sherry Phipps.
Learn more about this Teacher of the Month, by reading her answers below to a series of questions we asked her about herself and teaching. We hope you enjoy reading about another wonderful teacher in our community!
- How long have you been teaching and teaching at Matthew Whaley and as a 2nd Grade teacher?
I have taught for 23 years and I have been teaching at Matthew Whaley for 15 of those years. I have taught both Second and Third grade at MWES, spending 13 years in second grade! Prior to teaching at MWES I taught 2-3 year olds, Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and First Grade.
- What drew you to teaching, teaching at Matthew Whaley?
My mother was a teacher when I was younger and she served as a great role model for me. My high school in Maryland had a child development lab, and that was where I took my first “education” class. I somehow just knew that I wanted to be a teacher. My poor sister would “play” school with me for HOURS! When I moved to Williamsburg I held a teaching license from Maryland and needed a few credits for the Virginia licensing system. While taking classes at the College of William and Mary I got to know the former principal of MWES, Andy Jacobs. It was from those early conversations, experiences, and introductions that I knew I wanted to begin my WJCC career at MWES.
- Can you mention a project where you were able to engage the kids outside of the classroom or stories that you heard where they brought their learning home?
We are so fortunate at MWES to be in such close proximity to Colonial Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Regional Library, the Post Office and the Fire Station and to have great partnerships with these organizations. I have been able to take my classes on walking field trips to CW for hands-on experiences while learning about simple machines, going to the library to check out mentor texts to be used to foster great writing, and visiting the fire station to learn about our community helpers. Many times I hear from the children that they have taken their families to the library or to CW and they have shared what they have learned with them.
- What perspective have you gained from being around 2nd grade children all day?
Second Graders, and all children in general just want to be safe and to be in a loving environment. Second Graders are still “little” but they are right on the cusp of not wanting help tying their shoes, to be pushed on the swing at recess, or your hold your hand. I make time to slow down and do those things for them and with them. I find that they encourage me to be the best person that I can be, and that in turn helps them to become respectful, responsible citizens of our class and school.
- What do you want your students to be able to do when they leave your classroom – that you know will prepare them for further education and life in general?
When a student leaves my classroom and heads out the door at the end of the day or the academic year I want them to be able to say that they learned lots and had fun doing it! I want them to be respectful of others, responsible for their thoughts and actions, and to be able to make a difference in their school, community, and family.
- If you could ask parents to do one thing to help their children’s academic success what would it be?
Make time for family! I don’t assign homework on the weekend and my students, if asked why, will tell you it is so that they can “spend time with their family making memories!” I would also ask that parents be in tune to their students academics and be able to talk to them about their learning and their school experiences! Ask questions that don’t require “yes/no” answers.
- Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you and/or your class that you find you post, read, share or just meditate on?
I have a postcard hanging by my desk at home that says, “Learn something you didn’t know yesterday.” I don’t know who said this but I try to not let a day go by that I haven’t learned something new or had some kind of “ah-ha” moment. The past couple of years I have also placed framed motivational posters/sayings around my room…students have noticed them, commented on them, and are reminded of them by their classmates almost on a daily basis.
- Are you from Williamsburg? If not, where are you from, what brought you here?
I am originally from Rockville, Maryland. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Hood College in Frederick Maryland. I have taught in Maryland, California and Virginia. I received my Masters of Science in Curriculum and Instruction from Old Dominion University. My family visited Williamsburg growing up and when I had the opportunity to relocate this is where I decided to make my home. I have lived in Williamsburg for 25+ years!
- Do you have any life lessons that the students in your class have taught you – maybe a short story about kindness, sharing or just a 2nd Grader’s perspective?
Life lessons: “Treat others as you would like to be treated” and “If you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all.” Many years teaching, working in customer service and independent sales and these two lessons never change.