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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Amanda Casner

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Why have you decided to teach?

I like teaching because there is something new to look forward to each day. I always have my lessons planned out, but I have no idea what my students are going to bring into the classroom that day. My students have unique perspectives that change the way I think about lots of things, and I feel like I grow every day just by interacting with them. I never have to worry about my job being boring or monotonous.

What stuck out to you about the program you chose?

I chose to work at a middle school because GT students were some of my favorite students that I have ever taught. I wanted to stay close to Denver and work with students of a similar demographic. I did my student teaching in a high school because I thought that's what I wanted to do long-term, but I found myself missing my GT 7th graders every day. So, I decided to return to middle school.

One big thing that drew me to my school was the sense of community among the staff and students. During the interview process, the administrators were intentional about getting to know me both as a teacher and as a person. When they offered me a job, I felt as though I was being offered a space in their community as well. I know the tight-knit and welcoming atmosphere among the staff also extends to the student population, and I am looking forward to being part of that. 

What subject(s) and grade level(s) do you teach?

I teach 6th and 7th grade science.

What did you learn from the job process?

I applied to lots of schools and every process was different. However, many of the interview questions followed a similar format, with questions like, "what would you do in ______ situation," "give a rough outline of a lesson on a given topic," or they asked how I would provide differentiation for different groups of students. The more interviews I did, the more comfortable I felt answering those types of questions.

The first interview I did was at my first-choice school, and unfortunately many of the questions caught me off guard. As a result, the interview didn't go as well as I would have liked and I didn't get the job. I would advise anyone applying for a job to try to get some interviews at schools you're less interested in first as a way to get an idea of how the process works and get some practice. Then, when it's time to interview for your top choice(s), you've had some practice, learned from some mistakes, built up your confidence, and are ready to interview like a champ.

Do you have any advice for your Teaching Fellow colleagues?

Get as much experience in as many different positions as you can! I never thought I'd end up teaching middle school in the city, but after working in many different places across Colorado and with several different ages, I was able to figure out which group was my favorite. Now I have a job doing what I know I'll enjoy.

What is your favorite memory from GT?

My favorite GT memory was working with my club/committee to achieve a totally crazy goal. During my second summer, my committee was in charge of organizing community day and we had the idea of turning classrooms into GT-themed escape rooms. At first we thought we might have gotten in over our heads, but we were determined to pull it off. It was so much work but we were so proud of ourselves when it all came together. We worked together to make an over-the-top idea a reality. 

Are you willing to be contacted by GT fellows and alumni who are considering your program?

Yes, of course! My work email is acasner@westminsterpublicschools.org, or anyone can feel free to text me at 303.905.7519.