Vanessa Cleys

Middle & Upper School Social Studies

B.S., Illinois State University
M.Ed., Framingham State University

vcleys@morganparkacademy.org

Ms. Cleys holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science Secondary Education from Illinois State University and a Master’s in International Education from Framingham State University. After a year in San Diego, working with “at-risk” youth for AmeriCorps, she moved to Guatemala City to teach Language Arts and Social Studies at a private school. She enjoys sharing with students the knowledge she gained abroad.

Q&A

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

The students! To see them get excited and take control over their education is inspiring.

What experiences or people had the most influence on you?

My biggest experiences that have influenced me today have been my travels to places all over the globe. When you immerse yourself into different cultures, you are forced outside your comfort zone, and that is where well-rounded truths are developed.

Why did you choose to work at MPA?

The community and curriculum. I love to be creative in how I teach and MPA is a community that supports thinking outside the box.

What is the most important lesson you want students to learn in your class?

I want my students to learn how to develop creative, confident, and educated opinions in our fast-paced world.

What are your favorite moments with a student?

My favorite moments are when learning happens naturally and organically in the most unpredictable ways. Sometimes the most effective conversations that we have are between classes, or when we get onto random tangents, and I think those are some of the most important moments. As teachers, we spend a lot of time making plans, but I have learned that straying from the plan is when the most raw and influential learning happens.

How do you inspire students to enjoy learning?

By creating a safe and productive, yet fun, environment. Students are encouraged to discuss and laugh in my classroom. We are always debating and questioning what we know to be true.

What motivated you to become a teacher?

I think my motivation came from my own schooling. We all have had that one teacher who inspired our learning, and that happened to me in fourth grade. I wanted to be able to give that same feeling of inspiration to my own students.