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Distinguished Teacher Alma Suney Park

What advice would you give to people considering a career in teaching?

I've learned that being intentional and purposeful about creating a classroom culture of safety, acceptance, and respect is just as important as creating an exceptional curriculum. Time spent building classroom community is so worthwhile. Your class will be a place where students are known, where they speak out to share their thoughts, where they take risks and exchange ideas through scholarly dialogue. It will be a place where students do not hide mistakes or ideas but feel safe enough to be vulnerable about weaknesses and appreciated for strengths. In a classroom where walls are down, students are free to be, and thus they are free to engage in true learning.

What's the best thing about teaching?

Teaching provides the ultimate privilege of being able to influence a student's life. Teachers have precious opportunities each day to build a student's self-concept, help shape a dream, provide redirection, and impart knowledge and wisdom that students can build upon to reach their fullest potentials. Seeing these opportunities and acting on them is a choice that teachers make every day. Having these opportunities and acting on them is what I value most about being a teacher.