Dina Fricke, Clark Elementary School
Dina Fricke, 1st Grade Teacher, Clark Elementary School
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging aspect of my job is differentiating the instruction to meet the needs of each student in my classroom. No two students are alike. Students enter my classroom with varying needs, experiences, abilities, learning styles, background knowledge, language proficiency, and interests. These students are expected to master the same concepts and skills. It can be challenging to plan and deliver instruction when you have all of these other factors to consider. 

What’s the most common misconception about your job?

The most common misconception is that I am just a teacher to my students. On any given day, I am also their counselor, nurse, friend, mediator, coach, and cheerleader. As teachers, your students become your children and they become part of your family. 

Where do you see the teaching field in 5 years?

In the next five years, I am hopeful that we will begin to implement more educational strategies such as authentic learning, project-based learning, and portfolios. I know that teaching and working in a public school, we will always have standard-based assessments that our students will be required to take. However, I do feel that we need to find a balance between teaching what is required by the SOLs and the skills students will need in order to be productive citizens. I feel that ultimately, by incorporating twenty first century skills such as: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity & innovation, problem-solving, self-discipline, leadership, and teamwork into our classrooms, we will strengthen our school community and increase our student achievement. 

What outside experience prepared you best to become a teacher?

To be honest, I didn’t realize that I wanted to be a teacher until my first year in college. I had always struggled as a student. I never liked school as a child and always dreaded when August came because I knew what that meant for me. When I told my family and friends that I wanted to be a teacher, they actually laughed at me because they knew how much I disliked school. In college, I realized why I never liked school. I never had that inspiring teacher that motivated me or made learning fun and enjoyable. I decided that I wanted to make school an exciting and happy place for struggling students. I then obtained my degrees in Special Education and Early Childhood Education. Also, my parents prepared me to be a teacher. Unfortunately, I have inherited my father’s crazy work ethic and my mother’s obsession for having things nice, neat, and organized. These skills I find extremely valuable as a teacher.