New teachers and teacher assistants for Millennium Charter Academy completed orientation to the school this week. New teachers at the school are Autumn Davidson and Paul Rezzo, and Karen Fritz and Dean Harrison will serve as teacher assistants.
Davidson, a native of Bristol, Tenn., will be teaching seventh-grade science and English. Her hobbies include painting and hiking. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from East Tennessee State University. She views one of her strengths is the use of hands-on projects in both subjects to benefit students’ learning.
“Education of late has a lot to say about the benefits of this type of approach for K-5 students. It’s become a big thing,” said Davidson. “I love middle school energy. They bring so much drive to class. It’s just a matter of directing it.”
Davidson said while she finds science experiments a natural for engaging student participation, hands-on activities go well with literature. She said she was a bored student in lower grades but she wanted to learn as much as possible beginning in her middle school years. She said she knew teaching was what she wanted to do after a short time teaching Sunday school.
“It’s just another way to get them to create poems or stories,” Davidson said. “I like to be in the audience in the classroom sometimes. They shine when you let them have the spotlight. This is the way I learned best, visual and hands on. I had an amazing teacher in language arts who did creative ideas all the time. The goal is for me to instill ( in students) a passion for the pursuit of knowledge. The first time you hear a student give you back what you have said it is all worth it.”
Rezzo, a native of Lose Angeles, Calif., will be teaching eighth-grade English and literature. His hobbies include movies, film and baseball. He earned his Bachelor of Arts at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich. He said Hillsdale is a small, liberal arts school which operates without any state or federal taxpayer monies (no students receive any state or federal financial aid) and is funded solely by donors who support the school’s mission.
“The knowledge we receive in the study of literature is true then as well as today,” said Rezzo. “Students can still use the truths in their lives as they develop character. This is a big part of why I’m here. Millennium shares that vision.”
He said his interest in teaching was supported by a gifted English and language composition teacher in high school. Rezzo said he was active in drama in both high school and college.
“Studying great plays and performing them was something I enjoyed as a student but to instill that into young people was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Rezzo said. “In particular, one teacher I had in high school challenged me in the classroom like never before and I realized what I was capable of. I realized how much influence a single person can have over one person’s life. If you expect a lot, you’ll get a lot back. It’s wrong to think you can’t set the bar high.”
He added he felt getting students to translate literature through drama is a natural connection. He said his approach to teaching is like Hillsdale’s motto, “Strength rejoices in the challenge.”
Harrison will serve as a teacher assistant for fifth-grade classes. She is also a parent of an MCA student. She has a teaching license and has taught in elementary school and has been a tutor. Fritz will be an assistant in a first-grade class. She has a TA certificate and has 12 years experience as a substitute teacher.
Headmaster Kirby McCrary likened the academy’s orientation for new teachers to painting a picture of the school’s philosophy and education for them. One teaching position was added this year due to a 10-percent increase in enrollment.
“It is to help them understand what our vision is,” said McCrary. “We want to prepare students to be intelligent, virtuous citizens who lead in a constitutional republic and pursue truth, goodness and beauty. We take apart this for each subject and determine the ways it will happen. It’s painting a picture and taking the fabric of it apart so we know what it looks like.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.