"Teaching is a work of the heart" is the motto of Angelique Kwabenah, our July International Reading Association (IRA) Member of the Month, and she demonstrates it daily. Angelique is a reading specialist for the Washington, DC Public School’s (DCPS) Incarcerated Youth Program. The Program promotes academic rigor, provides opportunities for academic success through experiential learning, and fosters a climate that both develops and supports students and welcomes the involvement of parents and community partnerships. Angelique is one of the dedicated teachers that use literacy to enable students to acquire the academic knowledge, interpersonal skills, and values necessary to become productive community members. In this interview, she shares her path to this challenging role and what keeps her going.
How did you begin your career, and what led you to your current position?
I began my career in 1994, as a fourth grade teacher in Prince Georges County Maryland. I taught in the county for five years and then worked as a reading specialist for five years. I transitioned to my current position as a Reading Specialist at the District of Columbia Public Schools Incarcerated Youth Program, ten years later.
What is the biggest challenge in your current role?
The biggest challenge in my current role as a reading specialist in a correctional setting is motivating my students to read and I use a variety of resources and strategies to get them excited about reading, such as music, poetry and popular culture.
What are you reading (personal, professional, or even children's/YA)?
I am currently reading Slam by Walter Dean Myers in preparation for my summer workshop course.
What do you consider to be your proudest career moment?
My proudest career moment took place this year, when I was selected by Scholastic as the Read 180 Stage C Educator of Excellence for 2013-2014. I was awarded $1500.00 and got the opportunity to attend the Model Schools/Read 180 Conference in Orlando this year.
How long have you been a member of IRA? How has membership influenced your career?
|photo credit: Angelique Kwabenah |
U.S. Secretary of Education and Angelique Kwabenah.
/>I have been a member of IRA for 15 years and the resources and professional development have been an invaluable part of my personal growth as a literacy instructor.
What do you like to do when you're not wearing your educator hat?
When I am not wearing my educator hat, I love to travel domestically and internationally. Favorite locations include: New York, Las Vegas, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. I also love to read!
What's the best advice you could offer someone new to the profession?
The best advice I would give to new teachers is to be fair, flexible and to have fun!
Do you want to suggest an IRA member for the Member of the Month feature interview? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.