I’m JoAnna, and I’m excited to introduce you to one of the teachers I work with, Mary Moore Lowenfield. Mary Moore brings joy, passion, and her love of art to her students daily, and she has a clear strength in creating positive, engaging classroom climate. Read below to learn more about the great things going on in Mary Moore’s classroom!
What organization do you work for?
I work for YES Prep Gulfton, home of the FORCE: the only Star Wars themed YES Prep school!
What grade-level and subject do you teach?
I teach 6th and 7th grade Art.
Where did you attend college and what was your major? List all that apply.
I went for my first two years to Davidson College in North Carolina, where I started out pre-med, but I ended up switching to a Studio Art major with a minor in Latin. I later transferred to the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland, from where I graduated, and majored in Children’s Book Illustration.
What attracted you to teaching?
To be honest, YES is what attracted me to teaching. I knew a couple people who worked for YES, one of them being my sister. When I’d talk to her on the phone while I was living abroad she would tell me about the mission of YES, and I’d never heard anything like it. I watched a video that interviewed Chris Barbic and found him to be so inspiring, and his mission so unique. I don’t know if I would have ever really considered teaching had I not been introduced to YES Prep, which to me is so different from any teaching that I grew up with.
What is the best part of teaching? What is the most difficult part of teaching?
The best part of teaching is when my students and I figure out something in class that we’ve never thought of before; it’s like we are charting new territory together and it’s so exciting. The hardest part for me is when you feel heartbroken about a struggling student or a when you can’t quite seem to get a topic across to them, but really, the heartbreak just makes me want to dive deeper in and get better!
Describe a successful teaching strategy that you use in the classroom. How does this impact your students’ achievement?
One strategy that I have grown to love is Joy Factor at the beginning of lessons, and who doesn’t love a little bit of that? I teach 6th and 7th grade, and so I can get a little bit cheesy and they don’t mind (well, sometimes the 7th graders do)! I started hiding the SWBATs in an envelope around the room, sometimes under tables or chairs, and they would be addressed to a different person every day. Even the students who I sometimes struggle to engage will get up out of their seats to see if the “SWBAT letter” is addressed to them that day, and will read them proudly to the class, like a secret message or something: “Dear Julia, Today SWBAT…” . This helped my students’ achievement, because like a hook, it got them excited about what they would be able to do by the end of class.
When you are not working on closing the achievement gap, what do you enjoy doing?
When not working on lesson plans, I enjoy working on my own artwork; I do a lot of woodcut/linocut printmaking and painting. I enjoy doing artwork that is based around people, and my students have already been a big source of my inspiration for artwork. One of these paintings is now hanging in a permanent collection at Davidson College’s Center for Civic Engagement, and is fully YES Prep-inspired!
What three words would you use to describe the experience of participating in Teaching Excellence?