Editors Note: This is the second story in a series profiling employees in the Mantua Township School District who were given the Teacher or Educational Services Professional of the Year distinctions.
Educators Sandra Monahan and Catherine Blaszkowski were honored as Centre City Elementary School’s Educational Service Professional and Teacher of the Year, respectively, in the late winter.
Monahan, a third-grade basic skills instructor, said when helping students build on their reading and writing skills, she loves seeing them progress.
“I was working with another teacher, and we had a significant amount of low BSI students, and we had a student who was really low, and that year I worked with her, one-on-one,” said Monahan recalling her first year as a basic skills instructor. “That year, the girl made two years of growth. I was in tears, her mom and former teacher were in tears because she was able to get the support she needed.”
She added she loves seeing students get excited about reading the books she brings in and chapter books. Many of the kids she’s worked with, she’s known since first grade and she loves seeing how much they’ve progressed year after year.
“We try to group kids who are at a similar [reading] level, and I have students who I pull from classrooms who can be a year or two below their level,” said Monahan. “We get [reading materials] at their instructional levels, and then build up from there.”
Second-grade teacher Blaszkowski said she was overwhelmed with emotions and wished she had her full class there to share the moment with.
As a teacher, Blaszkowski said she adapts to her students’ needs so they’re able to learn lessons at a comfortable pace, and in a way that will resonate with them.
“You have to change and adapt to what kids need at the time, and you have to be willing to go off the path of your plan for the kids,” said Blaszkowski. “It’s kind of what I do every day. I gauge where they are, and base my day off of that.”
As a teacher of 17 years, Blaszkowski said she loves seeing students outside of school in the future and with their parents, and seeing how happy and successful they are after getting the educational services they needed.
Monahan hopes to continue in her position to help students because of her love for reading, writing and helping the various students succeed.
“You are working with struggling students all day long and it’s something I really enjoy,” said Monahan. It’s probably because I could connect with them on a different level and you get to know them better that way.”
Blaszkowski hopes to go back to school to be a reading specialist because reading “makes the kids proud of themselves” and she loves seeing them happy about being able to read a book they didn’t think they could.
“I brought my daughter to Mantua because I wanted her to be taught by the teachers here,” said Blaszkowksi. “I’m proud to work in this district and with the people I work with. It feels really good to be recognized for what I do and the children.”
“I learn from the kids, and everyone here gives 100 percent and they’re all here for the right reasons,” said Monahan. “I’m very blessed. “