TEACHER FEATURE: Christina FitzMorris
Degrees and Certifications:
Job Title: English Teacher (7-12)
Denzel Washington School of the Arts
Number of Years in the District: 3
Name of College(s) and Degrees Held:
B.A. Psychology, Marist College (2014)
M.A. Secondary English Education, Lehman College (2018)
What inspired you to pursue a career in education and why?
I was inspired by my joint loves of literature and of young people to pursue a career in education. I have loved writing and literature for as long as I can remember and have always spent my time reading and writing. I also truly admire young people in the ways that they see and interact with the world around them. They are honest, earnest, and passionate in their dreams and beliefs, and they work hard to fill the world around them with as much beauty as possible. Teaching allows me to help young people to harness their limitless potential every day through the lenses of writing and literature by allowing them to connect with a variety of texts and to see themselves in the art and the larger world that surrounds us. It is important for young people to understand that writing and literature are more than just what we learn in the classroom; they are all around us, and they impact our world in so many ways. When we make meaningful connections with what we read and write, we connect more deeply with our world and with those around us by experiencing the universal truths that make literature and writing worthwhile. In appreciating how writing and literature captures and expresses small parts of what makes our world beautiful, students recognize that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
What lesson(s) or values do you strive to teach your students? Please explain.
I strive to teach my students that their individual voices matter. We all have a story to tell, and it is infinitely important that we understand precisely how to use our voices to make our world a better, kinder, more loving place that truly values all insights and experiences. I also work to teach my students how to think critically and to think for themselves in forming their own opinions and beliefs. It is crucial that students know how to conduct their own research using credible sources and to determine for themselves how they feel about things based on their own beliefs, experiences, and values.
How did your experience as a student influence your teaching style?
As a student, I always learned best when the content was connected back to the real world and to my own life and experiences, and I connected most with teachers who were visibly passionate about both the subject and their students. As a teacher, I strive to make learning meaningful for my students by connecting our content to the real world in terms of students' own lives and experiences. Students can tell when a teacher genuinely cares about them as an individual, as a person, versus simply as "a student," and I try to communicate my care for my students in all that I do, from my interactions and communication with them to my instruction at the front of the room.
What aspect of your job inspires you the most and why?
I am continually inspired by the strength and resilience of my students, particularly in these unprecedented and incredibly difficult times. These young people have had their worlds turned upside down in so many ways, and they have managed not only to adapt to these ever-changing circumstances but to continue to grow into themselves. They have not stopped hoping, creating, or moving forward, and they have never given up. I see their awesome propensity for hope in the ways that they interact with one another, in their planning for the future, and in their ability to rise to meet every new day.