Spotlight on Our New Staff
A Q&A with Talia S., 4th/5th Fearless Falcons Teacher and Parent of Generous Jaguar Aubrina and Courageous Cat Robby
Please tell us a little about yourself. For example, where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Bay Area?
I grew up in Felton, which is just in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I didn’t venture far for college – I went to Santa Clara University. While there I studied abroad in Ireland, and traveled a bit after college, but have always come back to the Campbell area. I’ve lived in Campbell since 2004. When my kids (Robby and Aubrina) were two and three years old, we moved to the D.C. area for a little over a year, which was a great experience for all of us. We ultimately knew that we’d come back to our roots in the Bay Area, and we couldn’t be happier. We love living in Campbell!
What are your interests outside of Village? What are some things you and your family like to do for fun?
My family and I recently bought a small trailer, so we’ve all been having fun going camping more often. I love beach vacations, reading (although I have a bad habit of picking up a book and not finishing it!), hiking, watching my kids play sports, and watching funny movies. I’m obsessed with NPR podcasts, like Freakonomics, Invisibilia, and Planet Money. My favorite of all time is This American Life. Last year I decided to listen to every episode starting with the first episode, from 1995. It took me about six months!
How many years have you been teaching? Who or what inspired you to choose education as a career?
This is only my third year teaching because I am a career-changer. Before teaching, I worked in online advertising at Google for seven years. While there I had the good fortune to send my kids to the Google Children’s Centers. I volunteered and spent a lot of time at the school, and learned about the Reggio Emilia inspired philosophy that the school followed. Reggio Emilia is a child-centered philosophy for early childhood education, which celebrates children’s creativity and independence in all areas. Volunteering reminded me that I had wanted to become a teacher when I was a child, and learning more about Reggio Emilia inspired me to try to bring these ideas into the K-5 classroom. During my credential program, I completed my student teaching in Washington, D.C., which was a rewarding experience. After that, my first two years teaching were in the Franklin-McKinley School District, which is a low-income district in East San Jose. Although it’s only my third full year teaching, I feel that I’m meant to be in the classroom!
What are some of your favorite and most rewarding moments as a teacher?
I am rewarded in the little moments each day, when I see students treating each other with genuine kindness and empathy. Seeing children help each other and take care of each other’s needs, offer friendship and kind words during challenging situations, and help others feel understood are some of the most rewarding parts of my job.
What books are your favorites to read to your class?
I love reading books and stories that allow children to make meaningful connections to their own lives. This year so far we have been reading The Giver and, although it has some very advanced messages, the kids seem to be enjoying it. We also read a book called Even Firefighters Hug Their Moms, which is a picture book geared toward younger children. The kids were open-minded and were able to connect it to the (sometimes heavy) discussions we’d had in the class about the events of 9/11. We had begun talking about the heroes of 9/11, and this book helped them to realize that firefighters and police officers are regular people too, and that even average citizens can be called heroes. It was really cool to see the connections they were able to make from a simple children’s story.
Do your students teach you things? If so, what do you learn from them?
My students are constantly teaching me things! I believe it’s important for teachers to continue to grow and learn, and whether they know it or not, the children give me daily inspiration to see my own areas for growth. One example is that we are all working on developing growth mindsets, and my students catch me using fixed mindset phrases all the time. They call me out when I say things like “good job,” or “that was perfect.” These are phrases I heard when growing up, and it can be hard to break habits, so I’m learning right alongside them.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’m just so happy to be a parent here and even happier to be a teacher here. This is just such a wonderful place to be, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with your fabulous children!