Image credit: DC Prep
Meet Julia King, a seventh grade math teacher at DC Prep, who was recently selected as the 2013 DC Teacher of the Year. Ms. King answered PCSB's 7 Questions and provided insight into why she loves teaching, her decision to teach at a charter school, and what she likes to do when she's not in the classroom (hint: her namesake Julia Child comes to mind).
When did you know you wanted to work in education?
Like many Teach For America (TFA) corps members, my original plan was to spend two years contributing to the program and then pursue a profession in a field related to my undergraduate studies. At the end of my commitment in Gary, Indiana I flew back to Washington, DC to begin a round of interviews for positions in international relations. It was during that week that I realized what I thought was a temporary commitment with TFA was actually the beginning of my career. I applied for, and was offered a job, with DC Prep. I am doing what I was born to do. I am a teacher.
Why choose charter?
In the education system nationwide, I firmly believe that methods must be flexible, but that expectations must never deviate from the fundamental belief that all children can succeed and that every teacher can help make it happen.
Charter schools, and networks of charter schools like DC Prep, are an integral part of this system. Charters afford families – especially those in urban areas like Washington – with increased choice in sending their children to high-performing, high-quality public schools from the earliest years. In addition, charter schools like DC Prep have the autonomy and flexibility that foster innovation – creating policies that promote student growth and accountability, as well as the professional growth and accountability of faculty members.
At DC Prep, this translates to longer school days where learning is sacred, an unapologetic focus on academics and building strong character skills in students, as well as ongoing support for the professional development of teachers and leaders – resulting in a campus community where like-minded educators collaborate, refine their teaching craft, and thrive.
Describe DC Prep. What makes it stand out?
The level of collaboration at DC Prep is very unusual. Faculty, staff, and families are committed to the success of the students. We rely on one another to educate and nurture the children. Communication is encouraged through frequent meetings, letters home, and progress reports. At DC Prep, faculty members continually evaluate objectives and goals, making adjustments when necessary.
In addition, the importance of character development is woven through all of our lessons and is deeply embedded in the fabric of DC Prep’s campus culture. As a result, our school community is inclusive and based on a shared respect for the individual members that make DC Prep such a special place to learn, work, and grow.
What's a typical workday for you?
Part of what initially drew me to this field is the fact that a “typical” day doesn’t exist! I love the dynamic nature of teaching – waking up and knowing that I have a plan, but realizing that in any given day, students can surprise, inspire, and often challenge me to learn something new. That said, I do have a routine and schedule, featured on DC Prep’s website: http://www.dcprep.org/Careers/A_Teachers_Day
Who is the educator you admire the most?
In the funny way that some people adopt accents when in new environments, I find myself incorporating the best teaching practices that I see – sometimes without even realizing it. I love observing other teachers and would say that rather than having one educator I revere above others, most have gifts that I would like to emulate.
There are a lot of funny words and acronyms in education. Tell me, what word or phrase would you like to do away with the most?
“Infer” in Reading class. Or “Do Now” – it sounds rude.
So what do you do when you're not in school?
When I'm not at DC Prep I spend my down time single-handedly keeping the Post Office going by writing snail mail to friends and family. I also enjoy yoga/spinning (at Sculpt DC) and have vowed this year to become a fearless cook.
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