“The most inspiring part of teaching is seeing my former students develop as thinkers and citizens.”
Kristina Voskes, Skinner Middle School
An 8th grade Language Arts teacher at Skinner Middle School, Kristina Voskes has been a DPS educator for three years and is in her seventh year as a middle school teacher. Kristina joined the profession to help students uncover their own potential, identify their strengths and gain a sense of confidence. She strives to help students prioritize their academic goals and dedicate the time needed to achieve them.
“The most challenging aspect of this profession is instilling a sense of grit in students,” she said. “At times, it can be difficult for students to remember their long-term goals in the face of short-term challenges, especially when students are facing a variety of challenges outside of school.”
In addition to her teaching duties, Kristina serves on DCTA’s benefits committee helping to shape and negotiate the benefits obtained under DCTA’s DPS contract. She was recently interviewed by 9News reporter Chris Vanderveen for a story on rising health care costs that will air sometime in November (we’ll notify DCTA members when the story is broadcast).
The following are some of Kristina’s top concerns about the teaching profession today:
- Class size: “It is challenging to meet the learning needs of all students in larger classes.”
- Balancing student scheduling: “It can be difficult to balance scheduling for students who need academic support classes (ELD, intervention) so they can have support classes and have the opportunity to take choice elective classes as well.”
- Supporting students that need deeper instruction: “This can take teachers away from the expected scope and sequence. It becomes particularly challenging with testing schedules, which require teachers to cover a specific amount of content in a specific time frame.”
- Character building: “It’s challenging to balance continued instruction on character building in conjunction with academic learning.”
- Achievement gap: “There is a constant struggle to close the achievement gap between students who have family academic support at home and those who do not have this support at home.”
In addition, Kristina sees a great need for more trauma-informed care practices in the classroom, and for teachers and staff to be trained in these practices. As family issues at home like divorce, drug and alcohol use, lack of food or other resources proliferate, students’ academic development suffers, she said. Teacher education efforts can provide teachers with the skills to help students adapt to and manage challenges at home so they can continue to learn academically.
“The most inspiring part of teaching for me is seeing my former students develop as thinkers and citizens,” Kristina said. “When students come back to visit, it is so fulfilling to see how they have grown. Middle school is a unique period in which students develop their sense of voice and opinions about the world, and it is wonderful to see how students have continued to develop the habits, interests, and skills that were practiced in my class.”
If you know of a DCTA teacher that should be featured here, please email their name and contact information to Amber Wilson – DCTA Secretary.