By Sara Nelson
Happy “Where Do You Work?” Wednesday! This week meet alumna Erin Flynn (BA ’12 Elementary Education).
Flynn works as a first-grade teacher and Content Cluster lead at the National Teachers Academy in Chicago Public Schools. She has been part of Chicago Public Schools for the past five years, and has worked at the National Teachers Academy for the past three, teaching kindergarten and first grade.
“We are a high performing school that focuses on social justice in and out of the classroom,” says Flynn. “Our staff works very closely to research resources to bring to our grade level teams so each student understands what equity looks and feels like.”
Each year the National Teachers Academy participates in a school-wide project called the Museum Walk, where students at each grade level select a social justice oriented topic to research. Previously, her students researched three education and social justice advocates; Ruby Bridges, Asean Johnson (a current Chicago Public Schools student), and Malala Yousafzai.
“Having students as young as five years old describe the similarities that they have to these three young equity advocates was extremely powerful, and gives me hope that they are on the way to becoming advocates for themselves and others,” says Flynn.
After traveling to Chicago to observe and teach in several classrooms with UI College of Education faculty mentors Kathy Whitmore and Renita Schmidt, Flynn knew she wanted to pursue her teaching career in Chicago Public Schools.
In fact, being a Hawkeye made such a big impact on Flynn that she and her students celebrate “Football Friday” during the fall, where they watch short clips of Hawkeye football games during “brain breaks.” Flynn finds this gives her students a time to re-charge their batteries and come back to other classroom projects with increased concentration and creativity for better learning.
“During my years in the College of Education, I was able to make some very strong connections to professors and alumni,” says Flynn. “Because of the variety of experiences the University of Iowa has afforded me, I feel I have found my ‘teaching home’ at the National Teachers Academy."
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