May 8, 2019

Teacher Appreciation Week: Teacher Spotlight 3: “The magic of Ah-Ha Moments”

GoGuardian Team
A heart composed of words about teaching next to the words "GoGuardian Teacher Spotlight Series"

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.