fifth grade teacher Kathleen Muldoon is one of six school district staff members who at the annual Foundation for Excellence in Yorktown Education fundraiser next week.
Muldoon grew up in Yorktown, graduating from the schools and now raising her own three kids here. She started teaching at the school district right after receiving her Bachelor's degree. This is her 23rd year of teaching.
Ken Levy, principal of , said Muldoon is a part of a team where the entire school is dedicated to character education.
"With this in mind you always need 'informal leaders' to step up to the plate and take the 'bull by the horns,'" he said. "Muldoon has done this with character education and particularly our district wide initiative, PBIS. Personally, I know I can always turn to Ms. Muldoon for support and guidance when it comes to PBIS and moving forward with character education. The entire Crompond family thanks Ms. Muldoon, the committee, and our whole WE community for banding together to further this initiative."
Patch caught up with Muldoon to ask her about the honor she is receiving from the school district.
Patch: What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Kathleen Muldoon: I truly love what I do. My favorite part of my job is interacting with my students. I prize the times when I'm presenting new material to them, which they may be struggling with at first, and then I get to watch their faces light up when they've "got it." I teach all subjects, and I truly enjoy each one. One of the things I like to do best is read aloud to them. It's a wonderful experience to share together and helps them develop a love of reading. We enjoy laughing at the funny parts and have even shared a few tears when the story is touching.
Patch: What have been the highlights of your experience at the Yorktown schools?
Muldoon: Over the years I have had many highlights, so I will just mention a few:
- I have directed many plays, both on a school-wide and classroom level, which has helped the students bloom and gain self-confidence.
- I have sung at our D.A.R.E. Graduations and Moving-Up Day ceremonies for many, many years.
- For the past few years, I have had the pleasure of having one of my former fifth grade students as my colleague, and the best part is that she says I helped inspire her to become a teacher.
- In 2009 I was called into my principal's office where my best friend was on the computer, via Skype, and it turned out that I was on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
- During the Gulf War, my class and I corresponded with a troop overseas, and they sent us their Company flag. We then created a flag to send back to them, and Ira Joe Fisher and NBC News came to our classroom to interview us and put us on the news.
- I have received many grants throughout the years for both school-wide and classroom programs.
- I have been in Who's Who Among America's Teachers a number of times.
- I delivered a keynote address back at my Alma Mater, , for the National Honor Society.
Patch: Why do you think you were chosen as a representative from your school? What does the honor mean to you?
Muldoon: This is a hard question to answer. The email that was sent to inform each of the honorees about this distinction stated:
"In these sometimes troubling times, it is so important for our kids to see their teachers "live" good character and not just "teach" it. This year, the FFE, with the help of school Principals and Dr. Napalitano, has chosen to honor one person from each YCSD building that dedicates their time, talent, energy and effort above and beyond their call."
I think that one of the main reasons I was chosen is because I have become a leader of our school-wide PBIS committee. PBIS is an initiative that has been in place for many years in our middle school and has been recently embraced by the rest of the district. It stands for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and focuses on rewarding those students who are doing the right thing and teaching numerous strategies to help and guide students who misbehave. (The work we do with PBIS is done by all the members of the committee, so I wish they could all have been chosen too.)
I guess another reason I was chosen is because I am passionate about what I do as a teacher. I believe strongly in doing what is right and feel that character education is one of the most important things we teach kids our children. They will soon be the leaders of our world, and they need a strong and solid foundation in knowing what is right and wrong and an understanding that sometimes doing the right thing is a much harder choice, but it's really the only choice you can make. This honor means a great deal to me. I am completely humbled by it, first of all.
I know that there are many others in my building who could have also been chosen, and I feel that I am a representative of all of them. (It's also made my mom and dad really proud!) Furthermore, I am especially pleased that this honor is coming through the Foundation for Excellence. I have always greatly admired the work that they do and the fact that the money they raise goes directly to the school. In fact, through grants I have written to the Foundation, I have been able to procure 13 high-quality microscopes, many commercially made microscope slides, and a SMART Board for our Science Lab.
Patch: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment at the district so far?
Muldoon: The biggest accomplishment so far is one I share with my colleague, Jen Strang. For a number of years we have had the wonderful opportunity to work together in an integrated co-teach classroom. I am a regular education teacher and Jen is a special education teacher, and we work in the same classroom all day, along with a Certified Teacher Assistant and a second Certified Teaching Assistant the past couple of years who is responsible for two of our students.
This means that most years we have three adults in our room, and now we have four. Our students have a mix of abilities, some are special education students, some are in the enrichment program, some have AIS services (which means they get extra help in reading and/or math), and some students don't get outside services. We greatly enjoy teaching this program because it allows us to differentiate on many levels, for all our students. One of the main benefits is that our students truly learn that everyone is gifted in their own way. Everybody has something wonderful to offer the rest of us, and in a classroom like ours, that is made apparent every day.
Also, the fact that we can all learn from one another is demonstrated constantly. There is no stigma attached to getting extra help because everyone needs it at one time or another. We are able to constantly use flexible grouping so that each child's needs are met, and with four adults in the room, the students are able to get much more individualized attention. There are only a few other pairs of teachers in our district who have also been doing this type of program for years, some for longer than we have, and last year it became a district initiative and now many more teachers are able to do it as well.
Patch: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Muldoon: I am a product of the Yorktown School District. I grew up here, and attended from kindergarten through 12th grade. I believe that this is an excellent district and am proud to be a part of it. In addition, I still live here and have chosen to raise my triplets in this town and am so pleased that they are part of this district, as well.
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