My favorite subject when I was in school was art. I loved to draw and even tried to excel in painting and clay. What I loved most about art class was that the product was never truly finished. As an artist, I was able to go to class, work on my craft, and make my product a little better each day. The beauty of art class is that every day brought a new perspective, and taught me that change, and work, is fluent and ongoing. This same approach, to me, is what being a teacher is all about. Each student is a work of art that is being molded a little bit each day. Parents, siblings, and other relatives as well as teachers, classmates, and coaches all help form our students. Still, when they leave MPA, they are not yet complete.
Each student is an unfinished product. They are a work in progress and as a teacher, I remind myself of this every day. If my student struggles with writing, I can not expect them to simply become great writers without instruction; I have to teach them how to write. If my student does not care for speaking in public, I have to create a safe environment where that student can try speaking in front of the class, to feel OK making a mistake, and to know that I think it is great that they tried. When a student walks into a class, there is an expectation that they have the skills necessary to be there. But sometimes that is not always the case. As an educator, I need to begin molding that student – chipping away from a hunk of marble and building up the student that needs that extra help.
The beauty of teaching at Morgan Park Academy is that I have the chance to impact students and help shape them each day. My students come into class without the worries of standardized assessments and are genuinely excited to be at school. One of the best aspects of working at an independent school is that the educational environment allows us to help students to be successful for the next division, next grade, for life after MPA. MPA’s small classes give students a chance to interact with teachers on a one-on-one level. The voice of each student is important at MPA. It is MPA’s commitment to allowing teachers to explore different teaching methods that gives teachers both the freedom and autonomy to accomplish these goals. The academic environment at MPA is one many schools only dream about.
By Daniel Peters
Mr. Peters teaches Middle School social studies and is Middle School assistant principal and Director of Student Life.