Deciding on a career is no small decision—it’s a choice many people struggle with for years, and may never truly find their passion. Not so for our Inspirational Middle School Educator, Alissa Mounsey. She thought about becoming a teacher from early in her childhood, when she would “play school” with her sister. And following a brief detour trying out the business world in college and for several years after, she settled on that passion permanently. “After 6 years in marketing post-college, I was unfulfilled and applied to the Teaching Fellows,” Alissa told us. The decision has certainly paid off for her.
Now nine years into her teaching career at Adrien Block Independent School #25 in Flushing, New York, Alissa is driven by making concepts click in her 6th grade math classroom. “I love seeing my students have their ‘aha’ moments,” she said. To help her students make those critical connections, Alissa “uses a hands-on approach to everything,” Daniel Flaxman, guidance counselor at Adrien Block, told us when nominating her. She makes it a priority to keep students highly engaged in a variety of different activities in her classroom, so they’re always excited for math class.
Also key to Alissa’s hands-on approach is her open-door policy. Students know they “…can go to her no matter what grade they are in for any academic support,” Daniel stated. Alissa has had a huge impact on many of her students, going above and beyond to provide individual attention to help close the gaps in their understanding. Thanks to this dedication, her students even recently voted Alissa as their favorite teacher in 6th grade!
Technology plays an important role in Alissa’s instruction as well. She takes full advantage of the several desktop computers, iPad tablets, and the laptop she has in her classroom, and her students regularly use their devices at home to complete online work. “Technology provides engaging instruction and practice for the students. It allows me to differentiate content and difficulty level for my students,” Alissa told us. Edmentum’s Study Island is one of the programs that she leverages to offer this targeted practice.
Alissa has become a true leader in her building when it comes to using Study Island. She “…creates activities specific to understanding the material to enhance [her students’] learning,” Daniel told us. She has also organized school-wide “March Madness” competitions to encourage use of the program and get students sharpening their skills with regular practice.
Why does she believe in technology like Study Island? “Although it requires a little extra work upfront,” Alissa said, “it makes things much easier throughout the year.” It’s an effective tool to target each student’s needs—a challenge which Alissa sees as one of the most significant that teachers today face. “Teachers are faced with extremely large class sizes, and vast differences in learning needs and abilities of students in the same class,” she explained. Technology is a tool that can help level that playing field.
For Alissa, making the career switch early on to her long-held passion for teaching was one that is continuing to pay off. Her passion shines through in the kind words her peers and students have about her, and the outcomes her students are achieving. So, what advice does Alissa have for new teachers? “Be patient, be engaging, make learning fun!” That sounds like a sound strategy to us!
Please join us as we extend big congratulations to Edmentum’s Inspirational Middle School Educator, Alissa Mounsey! Thanks for your outstanding work, Alissa—keep it up!
Want to learn more about Edmentum’s Educator of the Year Award and our other Inspirational Educator honorees? Take a look at this blog post, and keep an eye out for profiles on our other winners in the coming weeks!