Lisa Pockrus, media specialist at Three Oaks Elementary, has earned a Lee County finalist nomination for the coveted Golden Apple Award.
Teaching six grades (kindergarten through fifth), 35 classes and over 700 students, Pockrus uses the school’s media center (what used to be called the library) as a resource to help students become learners.
“We can give them skills and use different strategies to ‘turn the lights on,’ but each student has to be the one to make new knowledge meaningful,” she said. “They have to think for themselves.”
Pockrus says the media center gives students a great opportunity to integrate many different forms of learning from reading to computer skills to artistic expression.
The following is an interview with Pockrus about her nomination and her philosophy on education.
The Banner: What does winning the nomination as a Golden Apple Award finalist mean to you?
Lisa Pockrus: The Golden Apple finalist honor validates the role of the school’s media specialist. I appreciate the fact that the committee recognizes the value of the work, which occurs in my classes. I look forward to the committee members’ observation of the genuine learning that takes place in the media center.
TB: What made you decide to become an educator?
LP: I used to volunteer at my own children’s schools and observed that the media center was particularly a great source of unlimited possibilities. I then decided to pursue a master’s degree in library and information science.
TB: What teaching techniques do you think contributed to your nomination as a finalist?
LP: I am always evaluating and always improving the way I deliver instruction. I incorporate as many hands-on, highly interactive lessons as possible into the topic, which I am teaching. I collaborate with other teachers and other media specialists and build on what they have found to be successful. I seek out training to improve my knowledge and continuously evaluate the needs of our students.
TB: Can you describe one of your greatest and worst days as a classroom teacher?
LP: One day, while driving to work, I was stuck in traffic and feeling frustrated. While waiting at a stoplight, I looked up and saw an entire bus of students smiling, waving, and shouting my name. My frustration melted away and I felt such excitement for the day ahead. As far as having a bad day, I was very disappointed about learning that our budget would not allow us to keep a paraprofessional in the media center this year. This meant that a certain 12-year staff member, who had spent six of those years with me, in our media center, would not be working at our school the following year. That was a bad day.
TB: What would you discuss with the superintendent of schools if you had the chance?
LP: I would like to discuss the bona fide impact that the media center can have on student achievement, when the curriculum envelopes and integrates subject areas of the school as a whole. When my oldest son attended Lee Middle School, every subject had a role in the students’ science fair projects.
The entire school worked together toward the success of those projects. In an elementary school, the curriculum is more meaningful to the students when they experience new knowledge through the integration of art, music, physical education and the available resources of a strong media program.
TB: What do you think drives the United Sates educational system and what needs to be changed, if anything?
LP: Education should be driven by standards and expectations, not by a standardized curriculum. Schools should be given flexibility to meet the needs of their particular students and the dollars to meet those specific needs.
Jean Amodea is a freelance writer for The Banner. She can be reached at email@example.com.