Why I Teach?

David November is an assistant principal at Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School, in Philadelphia, PA.  David officially kicks off our 2019 Teacher Appreciation series, “Why I  Teach”  by asking staff members at Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School a simple but vital question: Why do you teach?


Teachers are the lifeblood of a school.  Along with school leadership, they are the single most significant driver of student learning.  And amidst a nation-wide teacher shortage, the best ones have choices.  Lots of choices.  As an assistant principal, I have a role to play in ensuring that our current teachers continue to choose our school and that new teachers feel inspired to put down roots.  What teachers value most is individualized and often difficult to measure.  But when you ask them, common trends emerge.  Most want to feel safe, appreciated, cared for, empowered, and challenged.  The best leaders continue to develop and sustain authentic and innovative ways to make those educational buzzwords a reality for their teachers.  Listening and engaging with teachers on the subject of why they teach is a first step.  I feel lucky to work with a staff of teachers deeply committed to impacting the trajectories of students’ lives.  On this Teacher Appreciation Week, don’t just thank a teacher.  Tell them why they matter.      


Meet Rachel Matthews—Senior Academy Mathematics Teacher + National Honor Society Advisor

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I teach to build relationships. Relationships are the building blocks to encouraging students to learn and grow with you. Nothing is more rewarding than feeling truly connected with your students.

Meet Lara Miller—Elementary and Junior Academy Music Teacher

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I teach because I can’t imagine doing anything else. I believe in life-long learning and being able to share that with my students and help them find their passions and foster their inquisitive and creative minds is what inspires me. Helping them achieve their goals and find their potential in their own learning and growth makes me fortunate to be a small part of the larger picture.

Meet Michael Prusinowski—Junior Academy Special Education Teacher + 8th Grade Village Lead 

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I teach because it’s my calling.  I’ve been given a gift with dealing with children and I’m making the most of that gift.  This career has allowed me to be a positive influence on thousands of children in my 14-year career.  

Meet Caitlin Stalhut—Director of English as a Second Language Services and Junior/Senior Academy ESL Teacher 

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I teach because I love being a witness to those “aha” moments when a student finally masters a skill, solves a problem, or discovers a new passion. I teach because I feel like what I do is important, and I have a lot of fun doing it; what else could you want from a job?

Meet Marissa Johnson—Junior and Senior Academy Language Teacher

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I teach French because I enjoy communicating my life experiences and passions to others in helping them grow to be strong individuals with knowledge of how to act as a global citizen through French language and culture.

Meet Christianna Berg—5th Grade Elementary Science/Social Studies

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I teach because I want my students to have the opportunity to get excited about science and history, like I did when I was younger.  I teach because I want my students to have a fighting chance in a highly  competitive workforce.  I enjoy working at MBA because I feel valued as a member of my grade team, village, and curriculum teams.  I am able and comfortable to reach out to colleagues and administration for suggestions and/or help whenever needed, as well as offer my help to others. 

Meet Allie Shayka—Junior Academy English Teacher

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I teach because every student deserves to have an advocate—someone who believes in their potential even if they can’t see it themselves. I want my students to know that they can accomplish great things. They are the authors of their own lives! 

Meet Molly Maldonado—Senior Academy Science Teacher + Science Curriculum Coordinator

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At MBA I can explore who I am as a teacher. I can achieve great results in innovative and collaborative ways. I work with inspiring educators and with a community of students and families that inspire me as well. Honestly, working at MBA is something I’m lucky to do.

Meet Kira Gutter—Senior Academy Special Education Teacher + Girls Softball Coach

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I teach because I believe that it is the best way for me to positively impact society. I see both overt and covert systemic oppression in nearly every aspect of our society and while I cannot radically impact everything, teaching is my small way of fighting back.   I hope that individual lives will improve because of me and eventually there will be transition, on a more macro level.

Meet Crystal Johnston—Senior Academy English Teacher + Advisor of “Student Newspaper + Bulldog Broadcast

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From a young age I remember lining up my stuffed animals and teaching them lessons from my own textbooks. I didn’t know at the time it was my calling, but as I grew older I started to realize. Since the age of 15, I have worked with children. I enjoy working with and inspiring youth, whether it is teaching personification or helping with a performance for a program. A teacher’s role is meaningful. We have the success of the future generation and generations to come  in our hands. That’s why I teach and I love what I do!

Meet David Carvalho—Junior and Senior Academy English as a Second Language Teacher

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I teach because I love to make an impact on kids’ lives.  Teaching has a lot of challenges but the rewards of seeing kids succeed far outweighs those challenges.   I have a great time seeing young men and women grow into awesome adults and then come back and tell you that you had something to do with their development.  It is very rewarding.  

Meet Colleen Carmody—3rd Grade Elementary Academy Teacher

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I teach because of the students. Each day, they teach me something new and it is an incredible honor to see the human beings they are. The relationships we form are irreplaceable. They are the definition of unconditional love.

Meet Ray Tartaglia—Senior Academy Mathematics Teacher + Advisor of Math Club

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The best part about teaching at MBA is the atmosphere and the relationships that I have formed because of that atmosphere.  The support from my village and my curriculum team is unparalleled. The relationships with the students is also meaningful to me; both in the classroom and outside of the classroom I have gotten to know students.  It is the simple things that appeal to me most; handshakes or fist bumps in the hallway as they walk past, getting a shout out from the valedictorian at graduation, countless hours of students in my classroom after school or during lunch just having conversations. This all continues to validate why I chose teaching.

Meet Stephanie Bungard—Senior Academy English Teacher

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I teach because I believe words matter and kids matter, and the place where those two convictions connect – the school – has the power to change the world.  I learned from my family that work is important, and one’s pride in one’s work can carry her through any challenge.  I am simultaneously proud of and humbled by the work I do, as every year I watch with delight as, after teaching me lessons of strength and resilience and humanity, my students march into this world holding high their experiences, dreams and ambitions.  I teach because doing so matters.

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