Teacher of the Week: Laura Greenlees

Name/hometown/alma mater?

My name is Laura Greenlees.  I am originally from Warren, NJ and currently reside in Manhattan.  I received my masters degree from Teachers College at Columbia University and my bachelors degree from Catholic University.

Where do you teach?

The Elisabeth Morrow School in Englewood, New Jersey.

What do you do there (i.e., what subject do you teach, what sport do you coach, do you live in a dorm or supervise a club, etc.)?

I teach first grade…reading, writing, math, social studies, how to tie your shoes, etc.

What is your favorite place on your school’s campus?

I have a few favorite spots on campus. I absolutely love my bright and spacious Larua Greenleesclassroom. With such a large room, I am able to define workspaces that work well for whole class lessons and small group work as well as independent work areas.  The campus also includes an apple tree, which has special significance to our first grade curriculum and is a tie-in to the history of The Elisabeth Morrow School.  The apple tree is from the original landscaping of the Morrow House, the family home that became the school building after being donated by the Morrow family.  We craft an entire unit on apples in first grade and the tree is part of our school logo.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the people I see when I go to work everyday.  I have 16 wonderful first graders that make me laugh and challenge me everyday. I am also surrounded by a group of incredibly supportive colleagues and administrators.

What is the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is also one of the most interesting things about teaching young children. Everyday is different and I need to “expect the unexpected.” Even with the most thoughtful planning, last-minute things happen and I need to be flexible and try to use teachable moments to take advantage of that opportunity, even if it is not written in my plan book!

What is one unique thing about your school?

My school is located on a rural 14-acre campus with vegetable and herb gardens, a babbling brook, and multiple playgrounds. What is special about this setting is its proximity to New York City, which is just five miles away. Although the two areas could not be more geographically different, my school is located just a short drive from one of the busiest, most exciting places in the world.

What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself since you started at your school?

One thing I have learned is to trust my instincts.  This is the first class I have taught in which I do not have an assistant or co-teacher.  While I do collaborate with the other first grade teachers on a regular basis, I have learned to make decisions that are best for my class and me.

Who was your placement associate/counselor at CS&A?

Courtney Gimbel.

Who are your mentors?

At my current school I have a mentor teacher who is always available to answer questions and discuss ideas.

The teacher whom I worked with at my previous job is my mentor for “all things first grade.” We continue to talk often about what we are doing in our classrooms.

What advice would you give to aspiring teachers at independent schools?

Be open-minded in your job search and visit as many schools as you can in order to find the best fit for you.

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