Meet Kary Zarate: Educator for 7 years, K-1st Grade at George B. Swift Specialty School, Chicago, IL
Shares Her Love For: English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Independent Functioning, Social Emotional Learning
Spotlight on Her Commitment to: Letting the children teach her
At The Sunshine Method, it is our mission to spotlight individuals in our communities who are making a difference each day. Recently, we had the incredible privilege of interviewing 2018 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching Finalist Kary Zarate! Kary is a leader and motivator in her community, an educator that inspires us with her commitment to honoring the individuality of her children, and a friend with the desire to nurture joy in the classroom. Check out our interview with Kary on her everyday goals as an educator, the most challenging aspect of the work she does, and one thing everyone should know about her students!
Sunshine: [One of our mottos here at The Sunshine Method is to ignite curiosity in our children each day.] What is your goal when you walk into the classroom?
Kary: Of course, each day when I walk into work I aim to teach students something academic, regardless of their ability. However, my real goal, is to connect with them on a human to human level; make them laugh, let them make me laugh, let them know I am there with them, even in the tough, frustrating moments that their disability might provide. Really, I want to know them better than I did the day before. That knowing is what helps me teach them the skills they need for life.
Sunshine: [Given your commitment to the children, we know that there are still tough days that we all encounter.] What would you describe as the most challenging aspect of the work you do?
Kary: The most challenging thing is when I get frustrated with myself. When a student isn’t learning a concept it’s up to me to figure out a better way to teach them and sometimes that takes a process of many mistakes on my end to figure out the best intervention, method, phrasing or presentation of information in order for a student to understand what it is I am asking them to do. I get really frustrated with myself when I struggle to figure it out early on in the learning process. Each student is so different in how they learn, and I want to honor that in my classroom.
Sunshine: [At the Sunshine Method, we understand the importance and benefit of getting to know each child as an individual to help meet their needs. As someone who also gets to know their students very well], what is one thing you wish everyone knew about your students?
Kary: This is great question! Even though many of my students are not super great at communicating verbally, that does not mean they don’t communicate and aren’t great at communicating in their preferred way! Similarly, my students have amazing personalities, they are funny, and like to joke around and often times, because they communicate differently, people don’t take the time to get to know them more personally. Sometimes, I just want to shake the adults and say “Slow down and pay attention! This kid has a lot to teach you!”