Deborah has been with Fred Co since 1979 and was appointed as the county's first dyslexia specialist in 1990. She received her bachelor's degree from Hood College and her master's degree from Johns Hopkins. She created an early literacy program at Whittier that serves as a model for many schools across the state.
How has the way you teach changed over the years? What lessons have you learned?
I have become more flexible in my teaching, allowing the students' needs to drive my instruction. I have learned to expect the unexpected, stay focused, enjoy the children and do the best you can every day.
What advice would you give to a teacher who's starting their first year and feels overwhelmed?
Do the best job you can overall, and work on improving your instruction in specific content areas focusing on one area at a time. Lean on your teammates and show them your thanks.
What do you think the key has been to your success as a teacher?
The key to my success as a teacher has to do with my willingness to work hard and to have been fortunate enough to be a part of several schools that operated as Professional Learning Communities.
How do you involve the community in your classroom?
I have always relied on community members to help the children in my classroom achieve their best. I train and utilize adult volunteers and high school student service learners to work with small groups and individual students. I also like to engage my students and the entire student body in real life community service projects that show them the importance of helping others.
Usually, the entire community becomes involved in our efforts. We have collected and recycled aluminum (using the money to donate to our own Earth Space Science Lab renovation efforts), collected "Coins for the Cows," an effort to raise money for hay to feed our local cows, assembled school supply bags for children in Bosnia and raised money for the purchase of livestock through Heifer Project International. Through each of these projects, children were learning reading, math and writing through authentic learning activities.