The sixth grade is an exciting year for any student. In Kennett Consolidated School District, sixth grade marks the transition from oldest in the elementary school to the newest students in the middle school. Fortunately for the students at Kennett Middle School, Mrs. Brooke Giffi is one of the teachers to who welcomes these transitioning students into the middle school.
Mrs. Giffi received her bachelor’s degree in education from West Chester University and has been teaching in Kennett Consolidated School District from the time she was student teaching. She continued to teach in the district while studying for her master’s degree in Instructional Systems, a degree that focuses on designing and implementing different instructional styles for all types of learners, which she received from Penn State University. After spending one year teaching fifth grade students at Greenwood Elementary, she moved to sixth grade, teaching first at Greenwood then moving to the middle school when it was built.
Her students often experience her countless roles: as a leader and role model, from time to time as a counselor; and always as a friend and mentor. In addition to the roles she fills for her students, she also serves as Facilitator and Presenter for the District’s Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) team.
Mrs. Giffi and other teachers from the District received training to teach in this relatively new instructional program. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, the SIOP model is “a research-based and validated instructional model that has proven effective in addressing the academic needs of English learners throughout the United States. Using instructional strategies connected to each of these components, teachers are able to design and deliver lessons that address the academic and linguistic needs of English learners.”
Additionally, Mrs. Giffi is on the Pennsylvania Schools to Watch team. This recognition program runs on both the state and national levels, and 17 states participate. The mission of the initiative is to “prepare students to be ready for college, career, and citizenship (and) make every middle grades school academically excellent, responsive to the developmental needs and interests of young adolescents, and socially equitable.” This initiative gives Mrs. Giffi the opportunity to observe other schools in Pennsylvania and recognize the excellence of practices in other schools in the state.
As with any career, teaching poses it’s challenges. Mrs. Giffi notes, “In general, time is always a challenge. But professionally, I find that keeping up with the changes in state standards and Common Core curriculum, having that looming over teaching practices, is challenging. Staying balanced with workload is also something that takes a lot of attention. I personally appreciate timely feedback and want to be sure I give that to my students, so grading and returning paperwork on time is something that is important to me and takes planning.”
Clearly, the challenges she faces prove themselves to be well worth the energy. Building relationships with students and seeing the creativity they display is an aspect of her job that Mrs Giffi lives for. “Connecting with students on different levels and finding new ways to pique their interests in order to help them grow and learn as individuals as well as academically is why I teach. Every day I feel a wow moment because each day my students learn something new, and that is just fantastic.” She loves
getting visits from previous students. She says, “It’s great to see them return after they’ve done some growing up, and I love to see who they’ve become as people.” Mrs. Giffi is the mother of two boys who are currently in sixth grade and tenth grade. She loves to cook and read, and she cherishes time spent with her sons, husband, and cats.