August Teacher Spotlight - Keri Treadway
Each month, Vacas puts the spotlight on a teacher doing great things for their students and community. There are two components of this spotlight initiative. First, we send that teacher a free pair of cowhide shoes. Second, we want to give that teacher an opportunity to speak to all of us about their career and thoughts. This is another small way in which Vacas is trying to increase the voice of teachers across America. This month, we’re talking with Keri Treadway of Richmond, VA. She was actually my mentor during my first year of teaching back in 2008.
Without further ado, here’s the interview we did with Keri Treadway!
Angela: We hear you support teachers in a variety of ways. Tell us a little about your goal in supporting teachers?
Keri: Teaching can be an isolating and challenging job. It’s a career where we often disappear into our own rooms and have few opportunities to collaborate or talk with our colleagues. Although teaching can be extremely rewarding, some days it feels like we’re spending the majority of our time dealing with implementing the latest mandated educational trend, or trying to make do with sparse resources, crumbling buildings, and declining support staff. I was lucky enough to have some amazing educators take me under their wing when I first started my career. One of the things they taught me was no matter what, we have to support one another, both inside and outside of the classroom. They taught me that it’s wasn’t just about mentoring new teachers, but also encouraging all educators to not be afraid to speak up, to speak out, and to be heard. We must commit ourselves to be more visible and more vocal by sharing stories from our classrooms. Only we can share an honest vision of our students’ needs. The complexities involved in our work are often misunderstood by the public at large as well as our policymakers. Advocacy is a shared responsibility, which allows us to unite our voices and have a greater impact as we move forward in the fight for strong public schools.
Angela: What do you think is the most important thing a teacher can do for their students?
Keri: Teach them to treat others (and themselves) with compassion and respect. Model it. Live it. Work to create a classroom environment where children feel well cared for and safe – a place where they feel valued as individuals and where their needs for attention, approval, and affection are supported. Teach them that it is okay to make mistakes, because that just provides another opportunity to learn and grow. Our classroom environment should be a place where children can acquire not just a strong educational foundation, but also foster their social-emotional development.
Angela: Why did you get into teaching?
Keri: I grew up in center city Allentown in a poor/working-class neighborhood. My family didn’t have a ton of money, but that didn’t matter because both my parents and my first-grade teacher instilled in me a love of learning. I absolutely idolized my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Wolff. I vividly remember her smile, love, encouragement, and patience. It was sometime during that year that a spark ignited in me. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to grow up to be just like Mrs. Wollf. She was truly an inspiration throughout the years, and I can only hope that I’ve made her proud!
Angela: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen as a teacher?
Keri: This is a tough one to answer! There are so many funny things that my kids say/do on a daily basis. The one that really comes to mind (and cracks me up every time I think of it) was during our end of the year splash party. One little boy (I bet you remember who) was just getting ready to participate in the water balloon toss. After getting the whole class lined up with their partners, I noticed out of the corner of my eye water squirting from one of the balloons that this little boy was holding. Upon further inspection, I quickly discovered that it wasn’t his water balloon that was leaking….it was actually him. He was so worried about missing the water balloon contest that he decided it was best to pull down his bathing suit a bit and “just go there” because everyone was already wet anyway. Gotta love kindergartners!
Angela: Anything else you want fans of Vacas to know?
Keri: Get involved with the fight for more education funding! It’s been over a decade since the last recession and our schools still haven’t recovered. We need to demand more from our elected officials and it’s time that we fund our schools, fix our crumbling buildings, and treat teachers with respect.
*** Remember, Vacas gives K-12 Teachers a 15% discount. Just enter discount code teacher15 when checking out a product on our website, myvacas.com.