Friday, December 4, 2015

Student Building Teaching Future

Viper Senior Recognized as 
Challenger 7 Elementary School's 
Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year

It is a big heart that makes both a great volunteer and a great teacher. Just ask senior Cassidy Michonski.

In addition to being a top academic performer at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School, once a week Cassidy volunteers at Challenger 7 Elementary school to help a class of third grade students build a stronger foundation to excel in their academic futures.

"Every week, I get to teach a class," said Cassidy. "I come with my own lesson to teach the third graders. It is a really great experience."

Asked about her secret for coming up with creative lessons, Cassidy smiled and said, "Pinterest." She added, "I try to do something with the holidays such as Thanksgiving and Veteran's Day."

Cassidy serves as an intern for Ms. Wise, a third grade teacher at Challenger 7. "Ms. Wise is so nice and so involved in helping me get the full classroom experience," said Cassidy.

Because Ms. Wise is so committed to providing a rich and relevant volunteer experience, Cassidy has gained invaluable skills and perspectives which will help make her a more effective full-time teacher in the future. "Ms. Wise never just has me sit and grade papers," said Cassidy. "She really wants me to have a meaningful experience where I am really involved in planning and teaching lessons and interacting with the kids. She helps me so much."

The appreciation and respect Cassidy feels for Ms. Wise is a two-way street. "Cassidy is a hard worker who is always willing to go the extra mile for the students," said Ms. Wise. "She is enthusiastic and very involved with whatever I ask her to do with the students."

Teaching is a passion that comes naturally for Cassie. "At first, I was nervous but the class is very welcoming so I quickly got used to it," she said.  "I always love hearing what the kids have to say because they're very creative."

In turn, Ms. Wise's class has grown attached to their guest teacher. "The students get very excited when I am in class," said Cassidy. "When I judged the Science Fair, the students were so excited because I usually volunteer on Thursdays but the Science Fair was on a Friday and they were like, 'We get to see Ms. Cassidy on a Friday! We never get to see her on a Friday!' It's nice to know how much they enjoy having me there."

Challenger 7's Assistant Principal, Mrs. Tami Lanterman, also holds Cassidy in a high regard. "Cassidy is a youth volunteer who concerns herself with the academic achievement of others," said Mrs. Lanterman. "Cassidy's volunteer work serves as a model to others in the Brevard Public Schools and we are fortunate to have her as a youth school volunteer."

While Cassidy savors the award, she laughs about how she was informed about it. "When I was signing in on a volunteer day, the front office clerk told me the Assistant Principal wanted to see me, which was nerve-racking. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm going to get in trouble at a school I don't even go to!' When I walked into Mrs. Lanterman's office, she asked me to sit down, which made me even more nervous!  Then she said, 'Congratulations, you've been selected as Challenger 7's Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year!'"

Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School Principal Robert Spinner said, "Cassidy brings tremendous pride to Space Coast. She has not only maximized her own academic opportunities but has been of great service to her community."

What was it like earning such a prestigious award? "First I was speechless," said Cassidy. "Then I started crying."

Back at Space Coast, Cassidy was touched by the warm reception from her peers and teachers. "It was exciting when it was announced over the afternoon announcements. All of my teachers are saying nice things to me. It is so awesome about how big of a deal everyone is making about it."

In the end, Cassidy knows it is the value of the volunteer experiences, not the praise from the award, that will solidify her successes when the day comes she is a full-time teacher. "This experience has helped prepare me for situations that you don't plan, like when kids ask you certain questions and you have to be able to answer them in a way they understand it," she said.

Upon high school graduation, Cassidy will begin her college career at the University of South Florida in Tampa. She is majoring in Secondary Education. Already, she is planning for life after college. "I want to move to New York City and become a History or English teacher at the secondary level," she said.

A great volunteer and a great teacher, Cassidy certainly has big dreams to go along with a big heart.

Along with the Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year, Mary Marr, and the Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year, Karen Merrell, Cassidy will be honored during the ABC Awards Ceremony at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne on January 27th at 6 p.m.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.