​Woodland second-grade team works cohesively

Q&A with four elementary school teachers.

Contact this contributing writer at lisa.knodel@gmail.com.

Despite their varied backgrounds and longevity at Woodland Elementary School, there is a team of second-grade teachers that works cohesively together.

The teachers are Jen Holder, Erica Johnston, Teresa El Abbassi and Charlie Masanek. Between the four of them, they have nearly 70 years of teaching experience.

While Johnston is a relative newcomer having taught only two years at Woodland, El Abbassi has taught second grade at Woodland for 18 years. She and Holder have served their entire careers at the Lakota Local School District elementary school.

The Today’s Pulse found out more about these teachers.

Q: What has been your educational journey?

A: Jen Holder: I received my bachelors degree from Miami University and my masters degree from Mary Grove College. I have taught my entire career at Woodland, 16 years in second grade.

Erica Johnston: I received my bachelors degree and masters degree from Miami University. I have taught for eight year with two years at Woodland in second grade.

Teresa El Abbassi: I received my bachelors and masters degrees from Miami University and have taught my entire career at Woodland, 18 of 21 years in second grade.

Charlie Masanek: I received my bachelors of science degree from Colorado State and my masters degree from Chapman University. I have taught in six different states over 23 years and have been here at Woodland for the last 12 years.

Q: What do you have in common when it comes to your desire to teach?

A: Jen Holder: We became teachers to share our passion to guide children to discover a love of learning from discovery and to be a kind, caring, hardworking citizen.

Erica Johnston: We enjoy building relationships with our students and their families and fostering a love of learning.

Q: What is the biggest challenge facing teachers today?

A: Teresa El Abbassi: Time is our biggest challenge today. We have so many wonderful tools, resources and ideas, but having the time to collaborate and put all of our great resources to use for our students is our biggest obstacle.

Q: What is your team’s teaching philosophy?

A: Charlie Masanek: We are constructivists and believe children that are given more opportunities to construct and discover concepts through exploration have fun and gain a love for learning. We also have high expectations for our students and believe in growing the whole child.

Q: What is a favorite memory from your time working together as a second-grade team?

A: Jen Holder: We have so many favorite moments from teaching, it's hard to pick just one. Each year, has its own special memories that we create with our students, families and colleagues. We love being able to spend time with professionals in the field of education and learn from their expertise, guidance and experience their true passion for what they do.

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: Erica Johnston: While we have a broad range of hobbies — from playing soccer, traveling and going to cultural events like the theater to attending sporting events such as the Reds and FC Cincinnati games — most importantly, we all love spending time with our families and close friends.

Q: What is something people may not know about you?

A: Teresa El Abbassi: We are pretty much open books, if you want to know, just ask!

Q: What is one thing you would want the community to know about your second-grade team?

A: Charlie Masanek: We absolutely adore teaching; it is truly our passions in life. We live and breathe our students and are always trying to find new things to try in the classroom.

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