Colleen Amberg

Middle School English & Social Studies; Social Studies Curriculum Leader; Director of Middle School Global Studies

camberg@morganparkacademy.org
At MPA since 2012
Purdue University – B.A.
Purdue University – M.A.

What motivated you to become a teacher?
When I think about it, I think I always knew I wanted to teach. My parents set wonderful examples for me as educators themselves. Their happiness and satisfaction in their chosen profession made an impression on me. I had a very happy childhood. I can remember working with and helping little kids in my neighborhood when I was only 10 years old and getting tremendous satisfaction from these times. I really enjoyed it. Early on, I recognized the importance and responsibility of being a role model and took it seriously. I seized every chance I had to help someone younger than me. I enjoyed playing games and coming up with creative ideas to play and realized, through many small, but meaningful gestures from these little people, the important role I played as a role model in their young lives. It was rewarding. I went on to work with young people as a full-time babysitter and nanny. In college, cognizant of my own school years and the teachers who had impacted my life, I looked forward to becoming a teacher and having a classroom of my own.

What do you want your students to take away from having known you?
To me, aside from the parents, teachers play a main role in the life of each child who walks through their doorway into their classroom. As a teacher, I make an effort to make sure each child knows I care about their success and believe they have important contributions to make to this world. Regardless of my subject area, my job is to help my students realize the potential they possess, make them responsible for their actions and choices, and encourage them to become contributing members to our increasingly global society.

Why did you choose to teach at Morgan Park Academy?
Life has funny ways of working out. Since my children were little I struggled to find a school that felt right, a school that that could tie the best of the past with the twenty-first-century challenges today’s students must be able to adapt to. I knew I had found what I was looking for the moment I set foot on MPA’s campus! MPA’s diversity, small size, and abundance of opportunities make it less like a school and more like a community that you belong to. It really is what every school should be. The diversity reflects our changing world and gives our students amazing opportunities to learn about and appreciate the culture of other people and their history; the small size reminds us of the importance of the individual and encourages every member of the school community to participate and be known. The opportunities, from sports to service (and all things in between), impress us all with the idea that we are part of something bigger that needs us! It truly is a special place.

What is the most important life lesson you want students to learn in your class?
There are so many important things I hope my students take away from my classes, and probably none of them are subject-related! I love quotes and use them often in class to get kids to think about big ideas. One of my favorites is: “We are all connected. How you live your life matters.” We talk about the idea of responsibility often. In this increasingly shrinking world, what we do with our own lives impacts (for good or bad) the lives of many, many others. Often we do not see the impact our decisions have on others. I hope my students exit my classroom as more responsible human beings: to themselves, their families, their community, and by extension, the world.

I would also hope they exit as more empowered human beings. In history books, we frequently come across the idea of change and learn that much of what we study in history came from regular people who didn’t like what was happening at the time. We talk often about not waiting for “someone” to come and make a difference in our own society when we see something that we don’t like, that power (and responsibility) is inside each of us. Don’t wait for a leader to come, be that leader!