Second Grade Teacher
What second grade teacher Mrs. Alexander most enjoys about teaching is when students learn. She explains, “I love the look in their eyes and the excitement on their faces when they feel success. When students share or show that they have figured something out and have pride in their work, that is one of the best parts of teaching.”
Mrs. Alexander says she also loves the enthusiasm students bring to the classroom. She capitalizes on that enthusiasm by giving students the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways through different learning experiences. Classroom centers, class/small group projects, using iPads or other technology are just a few of the ways Mrs. Alexander makes learning hands-on and meaningful. While her favorite subjects to teach are reading and writing, Mrs. Alexander says she loves being able to teach all the subjects because of the opportunity to link them all together.
Beginning her 18th year of teaching in 2013-2014, Mrs. Alexander also marks her first as a St. Hilary School faculty member. No stranger to the school though, she and her husband have triplets in fourth grade and a kindergartener at St. Hilary. Community is what she feels sets the school apart from others. “I feel St. Hilary is a family,” she notes. “St. Hilary supports, encourages and celebrates together. It is a positive environment where students know people care about them personally as well as their education.” She continues, “If I had to say the three most important things to me, I would say my faith, my family and being a teacher. Working at St. Hilary provides me the opportunity to combine all three in one place. It is an amazing opportunity and I am truly blessed.”
Mrs. Alexander has had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings and grade levels, in traditional public schools as well as virtual online schools. She says these experiences have shown her the importance of planning for and meeting the individual needs of students, working with parents, and working collaboratively with her fellow teachers. She also wants to develop a love of learning in her students, and to plan lessons and activities that teach the basics and beyond. She wants to challenge students and make them always want to know more and find out “why.” “I want them to be excited about school,” she says.
With a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and a master’s degree plus 32 graduate credit hours from the University of Akron, Mrs. Alexander plans to continue her education through graduate courses and workshops so she can remain an active learner. “Education is always changing,” she says, “and I feel it is important to learn new strategies and techniques to teach children.” Mrs. Alexander has certifications in teaching developmentally handicapped (K-12) and reading (K-12), as well as licensure in elementary (1-8) and intervention specialist mild/moderate (K-12).
Mrs. Alexander, her husband of 14 years, and their four children enjoy the children’s sporting events, playing games, going on hikes, riding bikes, and going on family adventures.
Second Grade Teacher
Seeing her students come to school every day excited about learning and with smiles on their faces is what St. Hilary School second grade teacher Miss Bennett enjoys most about teaching. She also enjoys watching them grow in their learning. “Seeing the students progress is very rewarding,” she says.
Especially fond of teaching reading, Miss Bennett plans fun activities to go along with what the class is reading to help her students learn to enjoy reading and become avid readers. She taps into her creativity to plan exciting lessons, and incorporates technology, as well.
An alumna of St. Hilary School herself, Miss Bennett believes the sense of community at the school is what differentiates it from others. “We have a very active community and a helpful community of parents, teachers, staff, and students working together for a better experience for all,” she notes. In addition, incorporating the Catholic faith into everything is important to Miss Bennett, who shares that coming together every week to celebrate Mass together is her favorite part of the week.
Miss Bennett holds a bachelor’s degree in education with a specialization in early childhood and early childhood intervention and a reading endorsement from Walsh University. New to teaching in the 2013-2014 school year, Miss Bennett student taught second grade at St. Hilary School in the 2012-2013 school year. The middle child among five siblings, Miss Bennett enjoys reading, cooking, working out, and traveling.
Second Grade Teacher
Seeing in students’ eyes that they understand a concept is especially gratifying for St. Hilary second grade teacher Miss Conti. “I love seeing their joy and excitement about learning,” she says. As a new teacher, Miss Conti adds, “I am very excited to have a class of my own and to spend a year creating relationships with my students, learning their strengths and weaknesses, and then creating lessons around their needs to optimize their success and growth. I want to get to know my students’ likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and interests early on in the year so I can plan classroom activities around what they specifically need and what they would be interested in.”
Miss Conti is looking forward to teaching all subject areas, but plans to especially incorporate science into her classroom. “From my experiences, I have found that students love doing experiments! I feel that science is often, unfortunately, a subject that does not get enough time.” she explains. Other subject areas hold special interest for Miss Conti, as well. “I am excited to teach the Superkids reading program. I taught Superkids on the kindergarten level so I am looking forward to seeing how the program has grown with the students. I am also very excited to teach religion since second grade is such an important year with the students making their first reconciliation and first communion!” Miss Conti adds.
Thrilled to be teaching at St. Hilary School, Miss Conti says, “I am so excited to be teaching in a Catholic school! I was lucky enough to attend Catholic schools all my life and I know what a special place they are.” Prior to joining the St. Hilary School faculty, Miss Conti student taught kindergarten at Immaculate Heart of Mary School. She adds, “I was also the director of the after school care program and volunteered there for two years which allowed me to work with students in all the grade levels and have experiences that I would not have been provided otherwise.” At St. Hilary, her main goal is to prepare her students to the best of her abilities for the third grade. “I want every student to walk out of my room having a good experience and feeling confident in themselves,” she says.
Miss Conti holds degrees in early childhood education and early childhood intervention specialist from The University of Akron. The oldest of three siblings in her family, Miss Conti enjoys spending time outdoors swimming, biking, and walking, as well as baking and making crafts.
Second Grade Teaching Assistant
Seeing their excitement when something clicks is what St. Hilary School second grade teaching assistant Mrs. Bendo most enjoys about her job.
Having worked with children for six years, Mrs. Bendo especially likes assisting students with reading and math. “One of my key professional goals is to help students achieve their goals,” she says. Mrs. Bendo has served as a substitute teaching assistant with the Akron Public Schools, as well as a driver for students with special needs.
Mrs. Bendo notes the reverent Catholic atmosphere at St. Hilary School as setting the school apart from others, and says she is excited to be a part of St. Hilary. She and her husband have seven children, two of whom attend St. Hilary School. In her free time, Mrs. Bendo enjoys reading, biking, hiking, and tending to her house plants.
Second Grade Teaching Assistant
The joy children bring is what second grade teaching assistant Miss Ward most enjoys about her job. “I love that no matter how bad a day I have had, the kids unfailingly make me smile,” she says. “I also love seeing the progression each student makes from the beginning to the end of year, and knowing that they are building the foundation of knowledge that they will need to continue on to higher grades with success.”
Miss Ward feels it is especially important to give students individualized attention so they are able to succeed based on their learning styles, their strengths, and their weaknesses. “My favorite thing is getting to know each student individually, because they are all so unique and there is something I am able to learn from each one,” she explains.
Having attended St. Hilary School herself, Miss Ward is very familiar with what sets the school apart. “I think that St. Hilary’s faith based education and supportive community allow the students to reach their highest potential educationally, while also teaching them how to act with kindness, love, and honesty,” she says.
Prior to joining the St. Hilary staff in the classroom, Miss Ward has worked with the school’s Latchkey before-school and after-school care program since October 2012. She has also interned at Peak Potential Therapy in Twinsburg during Camp Snow Cubs, their winter camp for teenagers with autism. This year, she is collaborating to create a student organization at Kent State University for college students with autism called Autism Connections Kent.
Miss Ward is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology and minoring in psychology at Kent State University. She is also working toward a certificate in disability studies and community inclusion at Kent State. “Ideally, when I am finished with school, I would like to have a master’s degree in speech pathology,” says Miss Ward. “I want to work in a school setting with students in the general education classrooms as well as students in the special education classrooms.”
Miss Ward has a younger brother, who also attended St. Hilary School. Her hobbies include reading and running races.