Part two of our Teacher of the Year celebration is a Q and A with two time Teacher of the Year at York, Mark Wilson. Part one was about Young Life teacher, Sheree Suchma. Mrs Suchma is a pretty tough act to follow but you will see how Wilson can hang with the best of them.
College attended: degrees earned
Sam Houston State
2004 – Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science
What motivated you to become a teacher?
The MONEY (just kidding)!!
I had such great teachers growing up that I’m pretty sure I decided I wanted to become a teacher by the seventh or eighth grade. Two teachers come to mind early on that really influenced what I wanted to become when I graduated from high school, Mr. Heinzen my sixth grade social studies teacher and Mrs. Taylor my sixth grade reading teacher. They made learning fun and exciting, and I can still remember some of the activities and engaging lessons that they taught me!
What was your path to York?
Well when I went to Sam Houston State I was assigned to complete my student teaching at The Woodlands High School and York Junior High. Right away I could tell that junior high was the right place for me, and luckily I was offered a job the next school year!
What do you teach at York? What kind of curriculum is involved? You got Teacher of the year because you are special. What do you do that is special? How and why are you so good at relating to kids?
I teach eighth grade Social Studies, both Pre-AP (advanced placement) and inclusion (a mix of special education and regular education students). Our curriculum covers United States History from the exploration period up to Reconstruction after the Civil War. We are a TAKS tested subject so we try to get through our entire curriculum about two weeks before our big test day! What do I do that is so special? I really don’t think I do anything that is special. I love the subject I teach, I’m sure that helps! History was always easy for me as a kid. I kind of viewed it like story time…I was always a sucker for a good story, still am!
Describe why you like teaching at York
1. The students! I believe we have the best students in Conroe ISD. I am amazed each year at what these kids can produce in my classroom.
2. My colleagues! I couldn’t ask for a better group of coworkers to work with: my academic team, department, Mrs. Plagens my co-teacher, and everyone else here at YJHS!!
3. The technology! York has the latest and greatest of everything technology related, and if we don’t, Mr. Fuller is always up for getting it for us!
Your opinion in regards to how the CISD operates and do you think teachers get enough support?
I have no complaints about how CISD operates and the support we receive is great. When I was a new teacher, I remember going to the Novice Teacher Academy. This really helps out the new teachers with lessons, classroom management, and sort of a crash course as to what to expect your first year of teaching. Conroe ISD provides all types of other in services that are usually worthwhile and there are a lot of district employees that work behind the scenes to put those together for us! I’ll also say that our technology department provides us with some great resources..(if you can’t tell I am a technology nerd)!
It doesn’t seem like you can teach every kid the same. How do you teach a class of students the same material but still manage to cater to the various intelligent levels, emotional levels, etc…?
You would be correct, Mr. Sarant, you can’t teach every kid the same….my job would be gravy if I could do that! Each year I face that same question you just asked, “How do I teach a class of students the same material but manage to cater to the various intelligence and emotional levels?” In my classroom, it’s about the students buying into US History. I have to convince each student that this is their history, not just some story that we are forced to learn! I try to make it fun for everyone! Conroe ISD focuses a lot of its in services on differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction is a term that all teachers have learned to know and adapt to, it means that each student learns differently so we must teach to their learning styles. My lessons hopefully reflect that idea of differentiated instruction. One day you might walk into my classroom and see performances, presentations, or songs. The next day you might see students discussing an issue in groups. And yes, there are still those days where we do the old fashioned seat work. Managing both PreAP classes and Inclusion classes at the same time can sometimes be a difficult task, but I’m always up for the challenge. It all seems worth it when those eighth graders leave York with the things I have taught them!
Already a two time recipient (2007/08 and 2009/10) of the Teacher of the Year award, Mark Wilson is one of many excellent teachers located in the swamp. Principal Jeff Fuller and his gang of educators at York junior high are the gateway to success for our young people.
Like all teachers, I try to make sure that each of my students know that I care…not only about their grade but about their life in general. I think it is important for a student to see their teachers at their extra curricular activities, and I usually try to say hello if I see them out in the community. I think most teachers will agree that teaching is not an 8-4 job between the months of August and May.
Comments to Doug Sarant at firstname.lastname@example.org