Cynthia Finfrock, in her 5th year teaching full time, being honest and silly with her students

| 29 Apr 2021 | 01:06
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week May 3-7, we asked local students to write us about their favorite teachers. You’ll find some of those letters in the print edition of the paper this week. We then then went out and interviewed those rock star educators. Here’s our teacher spotlight on Cynthia Finfrock.

By Abby Wolf

Tell us about one of your best days on the job.

My first day of teaching kindergarten, I had just come off of teaching 3rd grade so the behavioral expectations were a bit different. We were sitting on the carpet and I wanted the students to look at something on the back wall so I said, “Stand up and turn around, please.” Now, I was expecting them to stand up and about-face. Well, they stood up and spun and spun and spun and that is when I realized just how different kindergarten is than 3rd grade. I always look back on that day and I can’t help but laugh.

What’s the secret to being a great teacher?

Being a human. Admit to the students when you make a mistake: it helps you connect to them on a personal level. When you have that personal connection, they are interested in being in school and what you have to say: they want to do well. Share personal stories with them, even if it makes you look silly. While they were out of the room, I tipped backwards out of my chair, and when they came back, it was the first thing I said. I want them to know I am a human, too, and that I see them that way.

Tell us about the past year – the good and the bad.

In the beginning, it was extremely challenging. I would work on my laptop from 7 AM - 9 or 10 PM answering students, co-workers, having virtual meetings, and creating lessons not knowing if any of it was “right” or helping the students. I was available to school 24/7 and that was draining. One of the biggest challenges I faced was being able to set working hours and stick to them so that I didn’t lose myself in the pandemic. I also chose to leave the school district I had been previously and was “jobless” with the fear of how the pandemic would affect that. Luckily, in November, I landed in Tuxedo with wonderful co-workers and families who welcomed me with open arms, and “showed me the ropes.” Being able to overlap with the teacher I was taking over for was a huge help.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone considering becoming a teacher?

Don’t let the stress of observations, lesson plans, state tests, and things like that keep you from loving the job. If you’re in it for the children, don’t let the adults ruin it.