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‘Passionate about making a difference’

Michaela Ponstein strives to find creative ways for her students to learn every year, and that’s never been more important this year.

In her fifth year of teaching, the third-grade teacher has helped lead the way at Arthur Grade School in terms of teaching with technology as a member of the School Improvement Team. She also put math toolkits together for her students, knowing they couldn’t share equipment.

“Miss Ponstein has not only been such an amazing influence in the lives of her students; she has been a leader among her fellow teachers,” Principal Sage Hale said. “She has thrived with learning technology and how to teach remotely as well as guiding many other teachers along the way. … Miss Ponstein’s enthusiasm and love of teaching shine through and create a spark that helps students achieve greatness.”

I find my work important because ... Every day I have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the students in my classroom. I feel it is my job to set my students up to be successful in the future. I not only teach them different subject matter, but also life lessons. My goal is to be their No. 1 supporter and instill a love of learning in them.

I became a teacher because ... I love learning and am passionate about making a difference in kids’ lives. Every day that I go to work it is different. I am constantly learning about my students and what works for them and what doesn’t. I feel like every challenge I face makes me a better teacher and person. I learn just as much, if not more, from my kids than they do from me.

My favorite/most unique lesson I teach is ... I love teaching lessons on multiplication. There are so many ways to make learning the different strategies hands-on and fun. Last year, we set up an array bakery in both third-grade classrooms for the students to go through different scenarios solving multiplication problems related to baking. It was complete with chef’s hats, cookies and sprinkles.

My most fulfilling moment on the job was ... Anytime a student from a previous year comes back to my room and lets me know I have helped them or impacted them in some way is always very rewarding to me. My goal is to create a lasting impact on them.

Something else I am passionate about is ... running. I ran track throughout high school and college. I began coaching girls’ track at ALAH High School when I started my first year teaching and continued up until this year.

I engage students during this strange time by ... continually finding different ways to make learning hands-on and allow for my students to collaborate with each other. Over the summer, I put together math toolkits for each of my students, knowing they would not be able to share supplies. This allows them to still have concrete manipulatives when learning and practicing various math skills.

I have also learned about many different Google features, such as Slides and Jamboard, to allow my students to work together while being on their own device.

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be ... I can’t imagine being anything other than a teacher. I have known I wanted to be a teacher since I was in first grade.

Arthur Grade School third-grade teacher Michaela Ponstein has thrived in a remote-learning setting.

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