Taylor Celenza

Taylor Celenza

5th & 6th Grade Social Studies and Science Special Education Teacher, Pond Road Middle School 2nd year

What teacher had the biggest influence on you as a student & why?: Mr. Swanson was my Honors Physics teacher at Absegami High School in Galloway, NJ. He was the biggest influence on me as a student because he gave up his prep everyday for me, so I could come to him for extra help. He would reteach me the entire lesson he just taught in class, while asking me questions to try and help me find clarity and understanding. He was positive and believed in me even when I did not believe in myself. Even though his class was the hardest class for me, I still looked forward to going because he made the lessons engaging. 

Favorite book: Holes” by Louis Sachar

Hobbies: Dancing, drawing, pickleball

Favorite color: Teal

Favorite meal: Vegetable lasagna 

Favorite musician or musical groups: Adele

Favorite sports team: Atlanta Falcons

Favorite TV show: Sons of Anarchy”

Favorite Movie: Titanic”

Proudest moment on the job: My proudest moment on the job was when I had a student who would not hand in any homework given to him. We tried many strategies to help him, but they were unsuccessful. One day, I gave him a notebook and wrote a prompt at the top. I told him to write me 3-5 sentences about what his goals and dreams in life were for homework. The next day, I asked him for his notebook and he handed it to me complete. He told me he wanted to be a rapper. At the time, I was an English teacher, so I was excited to teach poetry and connect it to rapping. For the rest of the year, we continued this supplemental homework for him. There were days where I would forget to ask for his notebook and at the end of class I would see the notebook waiting for me to read on my desk. 

Fondest memory on the job: The fondest moment on the job was when two students gave me an unexpected gift. They wrote a nice card that said, "We noticed you looked sad this week, so we wanted to give you something to cheer you up." I was so touched by their act of kindness. I realized in that moment that we had created a climate of family caring for one another in the classroom. That has always been my goal as a teacher: to create a safe environment for my students to be themselves and to make connections with others. In that moment I realized I had accomplished my goal: my students created a community.  

How do you make connections with students?: I make connections with my students by getting to know them and their interests. I make sure to have conversations with my students and try to make them feel heard and valued. 

If you could pass on your wisdom regarding your job, what would you share: I would share that teaching is more than just content. Teaching is about developing the whole child. It is about making connections and building relationships. Then all of the rest will fall into place. 

Is there a quote or saying that you live your life by: “Everything happens for a reason.”

What makes a good day at school?: A good day at school is when my students are engaged during the lessons and ask amazing questions. They want to learn more about the topic being taught and conduct outside research. A good day at school is when a student feels comfortable enough to tell me about winning their sports game or trusting me enough to talk to me about something bothering them, so I can help them strategize.
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