Teachers Talk Back: NY Teacher Jessica Saratovsky
Jessica Saratovsky teaches first grade in Manhattan and will teach kindergarten next year at the New American Academy in Brooklyn.
What inspired you to be a teacher?
I think it was my best friend growing up: her mom was a teacher. I used to play with all of her teacher things! Then as I grew up, I became a camp counselor and worked with kids.
What do you love about your kids?
How independent they are, especially when you give them an opportunity to create their own discussions and have student led opportunities. They just go with it. And I love how you can see their growth from the beginning of the year to now.
You’ve recently taken a position at the New American Academy. What drew you to that school?
I just finished my master’s in school leadership, and I was interested in a more progressive school that was pushing the envelope and thinking outside the box. One teacher meeting all the needs of a classroom of 24 is not a possible thing, so I want to be able to really pinpoint and individualize their instruction. I read an article in the New York Times by David Brooks and I said, “This school really aligns with my vision of education, so let’s apply and see what happens.” The idea of the open classroom with four teachers and a student-led curriculum was much more aligned to how I view education.
The New American Academy also has piloted a special career ladder, something the E4E Pay Structure Policy Team included in their recommendations. What interests you about the career ladder idea?
Knowing that I want to pursue leadership roles in the future, I’d like to hone my skills in collaboration and hopefully have the opportunity to become a master teacher. Knowing the opportunity is there and fits into the system of the school is appealing to me. In the regular realm, trying to acquire leadership positions is more difficult given the economy, and I didn’t have immediate qualifications to be an Assistant Principal, since I’ve only taught first grade. So this will be a way to teach other grades because we loop with the kids every year. And I’ll also have a chance to really be mentored by someone who has truly refined their craft.