High School Teacher of the Year: Ms. Klein

Ms. Klein smiling with her daughter, Cristina.

Ms. Klein smiling with her daughter, Cristina.

Michael McNeill, Editor

One of the most well-known teachers here at Somerset, Ms. Klein, was recently awarded Teacher of the Year: High School for the 2016-2017 school year. Not only does she teach both regular and AP U.S. History (plus AICE Sociology), she is the social studies department chair,  and runs the National Honors Society and S.W.A.T. (Students Working Against Tobacco). For those who have had her as a teacher, you would know how hard she works and how much she cares for her students. I sat down with Ms. Klein to learn how her teaching career started, what kind of teacher she strives to be, and what she does alongside her busy schedule:

Q: When did you start teaching, and when did you start teaching at Somerset?

A: I started teaching before I graduated college; they hired me during my internship, so I got out of college early… and that was 2005. I started teaching at Somerset in 2013, when it opened.

Q: Where did you attend university?

A: F.A.U. (Florida Atlantic University)

Q: Why did you choose to become a teacher, in particular, a U.S. History teacher?

A: I decided to become a teacher when I was little, so I had a chalk board when I was like five and my mom would take me to the teacher store and I would buy the attendance book. All the kids that were in my class at my school were in my attendance book, so my mom knew who I was mad at because they would have F’s if I wasn’t friends with them. I hated history my whole life, so I was originally a math major; then that didn’t work, so then I became an English major, but the books were too boring. Then I had a really good teacher in my third year of college who taught me American History, and she made it really interesting, so I was like, ‘Well, history is like one big soap opera’, then I switched to history. I’m not like one of those history buffs that like sits at home and watches history movies on the weekends. I like it, but not that much.

Q: If you weren’t a U.S. History teacher, what subject would you want to teach?

A: Algebra 1; I’m an Algebra 1 nerd.

Q: What is one of your main teaching philosophies?

A: Pick and choose your battles, you know. Not everything with kids has to be a war, just, ‘Put the phone away’, ‘Wake up’. As long as they’re respectful to me, then we’re good.

Q: Do you prefer to teach AICE, or AP, and why?

A: AP, only because I’m used to it. AICE just has too much writing, I’m not an English teacher. AP has all this writing too, but I feel like… I don’t know. Sociology is really interesting, so I do like teaching it; I’m, like, juggling the idea of if I really want to teach it next year or not, because of all the writing. It’s just time consuming with all the grading.

Q: What is it like to see your first group of students, here at Somerset, as seniors about to graduate?

A: I’m so proud of them, ’cause they really didn’t have the best academic background when I got them in 8th grade. A lot of them came from Odyssey, and they knew more about fights then they did school, so I had to literally teach them how to write paragraphs. Some of the kids that hated me in the beginning of the year loved me by the end of it, so I’m excited to see them graduate.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wishes to pursue a teaching career?

A:  Don’t recreate the wheel, like, go to seasoned teachers to get ideas, you know, because you can easily become burned out in education, so if you at least help others and recreate the wheel from them, instead of recreating everything from scratch, then you’ll be fine. I would just tell them seek the advice from veteran teachers, ’cause when I started teaching, and I did my student teaching, the lady who was in charge of me had been teaching for 36 years, and, like, my closest friends in education have always been teaching for years, and they have always given me awesome ideas. So, not that I haven’t been innovative on my own, but I haven’t had to recreate everything… and Google is your best friend, because you can find some stuff on there.

Q: When you were growing up, who was your favorite teacher, and why?

A: Mrs. Schmitz. She was my teacher in aftercare, and then she became my fourth grade teacher. She was really cool because that was the year Hurricane Andrew hit, so we didn’t have the first day of school like normal, and so the first day of school her husband had built this big dinosaur that we could climb up and lay on and read books. So that was pretty cool because most classrooms didn’t have that. Then at the end of fourth grade I was like, “Man, can you just teach me for middle school, please. You would be the best.” Well the next thing you know, she was my sixth grade teacher, so at the end of sixth grade I was like, “You’re the best teacher ever, can you please follow me to seventh grade and eighth grade.” Well she ended up being my math teacher in seventh and eighth grade, and so then when I became… like, we send Christmas cards back and forth, and we’ve been in touch through email. When I started teaching, I went and visited her a couple of times, and so she’s like my idol.

Q: What are some hobbies or activities you do outside of school?

A: Sleep -I am not kidding, I like taking naps- playing with my daughter, going to Disney, I love to eat, and going to the beach.

The staff of the Somerset Sentinel would like to congratulate Ms. Klein on her success and thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule to be interviewed.