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From FTC to KPS

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Sarah Giramia

Last year, we connected with members of Western Michigan University’s (WMU) Future Teachers of Color (FTC) about the importance of diversity in public education. Since then, many of the FTC’s members have graduated and are now educators.

For current Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) teacher Sarah Giramia, this transition has been an exciting learning experience.

After graduating from WMU in December 2020, Giramia stepped in from January to April 2021 as a long-term sub for mentor Stephanie Hampton’s sixth-grade English class at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts during Hampton’s maternity leave.

“I have really loved it,” Giramia said of her early teaching experiences. “It has been very rewarding when students tell you that you have done a good job. The teacher I was last September is completely different than the teacher I am now. I grew a lot in my confidence and my ability to lead in a classroom.”

Although teaching virtually during a pandemic was no easy feat, Giramia is thankful for the support she received from Hampton and her KPS family.

“It is nice that all the schools are all connected with one another,” she shared. “Growing up as a KPS student, there are people that were once my teachers that are now my colleagues.”

Additionally, Giramia relied on a lesson she learned as a member of the FTC.

“One topic that stuck out to me was the discussion of self-care as a teacher,” she recalled. “It is important to not burn yourself out because that can negatively affect your teaching.”

After successfully filling in for Hampton, Giramia was called upon again to sub for another sixth-grade English teacher on maternity leave for the final three weeks of the school year. Both of these subbing appointments, Giramia says, give her an extra confidence boost as she prepares for a full-time seventh-grade English teaching position at Linden Grove Middle School in the fall.

Giramia’s biggest takeaway from her substitute roles, and her advice for new teachers, is to make an effort when developing connections with a class.

“A lot of times success is going to come down to the relationships you build with students,” she said. “Students can even be a resource for you. I am a part of a generation that grew up with technology, but there were times that students showed me things I didn’t know how to do.”

Well said, Sarah. It is exciting to see a young educator so dedicated to shaping young minds. We hope that FTC continues to help develop future generations of passionate teachers just like you!

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