FC: Stacy Zahatnansky | Introduction Project
1: A few months ago, I moved back ‘home’ to Grand Rapids from Prague, Czech Republic with my husband of 8 and a half years (originally from Slovakia). We lived in Prague for six years while my husband studied medicine and I taught. During this time, I had the opportunity to travel to over 20 different countries, run marathons and climb mountains in different European countries, as well as learn Czech language and history. Though being in a foreign country with a husband in medical school is not something I would like to repeat, I had many amazing and valuable experiences personally and professionally. I am happy being back in my hometown close to my family, and, even after all my travels, one of my favorite places on earth remains the beach on Lake Michigan. This spring we will find out where my husband will begin his medical residency and welcome our first addition to the family – a baby boy!
2: I received my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan eight years ago. I am starting my second semester of full-time coursework at MSU in pursuit of my Masters in Teaching and Curriculum with an ESL endorsement. I am currently taking a hiatus from teaching to study full-time. | In Prague, I taught for one year in a Czech bilingual primary school and then for five years in a British international school. I loved teaching in the diverse and open environment of a classroom with over ten different nationalities and multiple first languages. I have a passion for literacy and language, born from my experiences with language learning myself and from being part of the exciting process of language acquisition for many of my students over the past six years. | I am thrilled that the MATC with the ESL endorsement option allows me to focus on and develop what I am passionate about. I am also excited about bringing the experiences of the last six years abroad and my learning through this program back to the classroom once again in Michigan, and maybe in the future, to new places around the globe.
3: In my busy classroom of diverse cultures, languages and learning styles, I had several struggling readers and writers. In addition to several students at varying levels of English language acquisition, one-third of my students were on IEPs, all with some literacy-related goals. I found myself scrambling to find resources and the know-how to teach basic phonics – something I was not entirely prepared for in third grade. I asked some of the Kindergarten and First grade teachers to give me a crash course in Letters and Sounds, the leveled phonics program used in the lower school. While I enjoyed these individualized or small group lessons with my struggling learners, I knew I could be better prepared to assess, level and meet their needs more effectively. I hope this course will help me be better prepared to do just that!
4: I love making reading and writing fun for my students. I am excited about learning how to teach literacy more effectively, taking into account the variety of challenges and strengths my students bring to the learning process. I look forward to learning with you all!