Katelyn Thomas is a SmartStart Education math tutor working part-time at Excel Academy at Francis M Wood High School in Baltimore,
Maryland. She is an experienced classroom teacher and special educator. In addition, she is currently working to complete the requirements necessary to become a certified teacher for the state of Maryland.
Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a minor in statistics from James Madison University as well as a Master of Education degree in Secondary Mathematics and Special Education from Lesly University. Prior to her tutoring role at SmartStart, she worked as a special education teacher and case manager for five years with Maya Angelou Academy at New Beginnings located in Laurel, Maryland. In addition, she spent a year in a general educator role, teaching math to 7th and 8Th graders in Baltimore City Schools.
Challenges and Surprises of Teaching:
Choosing a career in education can be both challenging and inspiring. “Building trust and rapport with students can be challenging, especially when you begin working with them after the beginning of the school year. I have found that being consistent in helping, giving verbal praise for academic or behavioral achievement, and being emotionally available and empathetic to students who are resistant to support is key to forming successful relationships,” she said.
Thomas said she was surprised by students’ ability to be patient and forthcoming with their academic strengths and weaknesses. “They are very open about what they need from the teacher in order to understand the content.” She added that students exuded confidence in their teachers’ abilities to break down and present new material to a basic level that makes learning easier.
“I love the independence that I am given to collaborate, create, and support students and the classroom teacher,” said Thomas. She added that she likes the trust level that SmartStart has in their employees to use best practices that support the teacher and their students. “This allows for optimized focus on the task at hand and not just simply meeting administrative tasks.”