Teacher Spotlight Q&A: Christopher Casella
Christopher Casella, a military veteran and Humanities Pre-AP teacher at IDEA College Preparatory South Flores in San Antonio, Texas, sat down to chat about his first year teaching at IDEA Public Schools, and how his time in the military shaped his teaching philosophy.
What drew you to IDEA Public Schools?
The number one asset that really drew me to IDEA was their ability to make kids college ready. For the last ten years, IDEA has sent every graduate to college. In the growing world, college continues to become more and more necessary to have a prosperous and stable future. IDEA fulfills the role that an educator should fill, making sure kids are set up for success once they leave these walls.
What do you love about being an IDEA teacher?
As an IDEA educator, I love my students first and foremost. My students are what drive me day after day. There is nothing more exciting or fulfilling than to see that "light bulb" moment a student has when they finally understand a concept I’m teaching them.
Additionally, my 8th grade teachers and I are a close-knit team dedicated to bettering our scholars lives through education. I truly cherish the togetherness we’ve fostered as a grade level team. This is done through planning sessions, staff meetings, team-bonding activities, and professional development. We work very well together to achieve the best outcome for our students, and embody IDEA’s core value of “Team & Family,” within our grade level and campus-wide, through the support of our principals.
What is challenging about working for IDEA Public Schools?
I will admit, working at IDEA was very challenging in the beginning, especially as a first-year teacher. The amount of rigor that goes into lesson planning, positive phone calls, data analysis, grading, etc. was very difficult at first, but seeing my students succeed is the ultimate reward. Plus, IDEA is committed to ensuring teachers receive much stellar support, coaching and professional development to help master the level of rigor and ensure you are a successful teacher.
How has your experience before IDEA helped shape the work you do today?
My experience as a veteran has been instrumental in my teaching career. The military taught me to adapt to my surroundings, be very patient, and develop strong relationships. We were taught the importance of an “attention to detail” attitude, similar to IDEA’s own “Sweating the Small Stuff” core value, which places tremendous importance on the little things and the small steps that factor into a student’s larger journey through school and the community.
I’ve used this essential practice in my teaching career, paying close attention to what each of my students need in order to be successful—and also what I need, as the individual responsible for setting students up for success.
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