Today’s teacher spotlight is on Denesa Menge, an English Language Arts and PLTW Teacher at Oakdale Junior High in Oakdale, California. Denesa discusses the magic of the “ah-ha” moments and the value of speaking with others in her first year of teaching. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Danesa!

GoGuardian: What teacher had the most impact on you, why?

Denesa Menge: The teacher who most impacted me was Mrs. Thompson. She was my kindergarten and first-grade teacher at Steele Lane School in Santa Rosa. She was and is the epitome of what I believe a teacher could and should be. She was kind, caring, patient, knowledgeable, and truly worked with each student.

GG: Why did you want to become a teacher?

DM: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a teacher. I grew up playing “school” and was always the teacher. As I grew older, I wanted to be the teacher the would, could, and want to help all my students. Especially when I had teachers who didn’t, in my young eyes, even care.

GG: What has been the best moment for you as a teacher?

DM: The best moments are the ah-ha moments. I love them!! But one moment that always stands out is a young man who came and sat in my room the first day of school with sunglasses on and put his feet up on the desk. I knew he would be challenging. Interestingly, the challenge was that he hated reading. The class was fine, behavior fine, just reading. I made it my mission to find a book or series he would read on his own. He knew this too. After months, I found it. James Patterson. He couldn’t get enough of them (James’ books)! When he was graduating 8th grade, a new book was published and I gave it to him as a gift. He still comes around and let’s me know he still likes reading!  

GG: Going back to your first year of teaching, what advice would you give yourself?

DM: Rest and talk to others. You don’t have to prove your the best of your continually working to better your skills for your students. Just like you teach, FAIL = First. Attempt. In. Learning you, too, can practice, fail, learn, and improve.

GG: What message would you give your favorite teacher growing up, today?

DM: Thank you. Thank you for always inspiring me to be better than I am today.  

GG: Is there one tool/school item that you can’t live without (and/or are thankful for?)

DM: Besides connecting with students, my SMARTboard. I love what it can do, how students interact with material through it, and the online capabilities it has for students and collaboration.