Relay Early Childhood Special Education Teacher Spotlight: Janel Reid
May 07, 2020

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, my name is Janel Reid and I am approaching the end of my last year of graduate school with Relay Graduate School of Education. I am a kindergarten teacher’s fellow at Harlem Children’s Zone-Promise Academy. I enjoy exploring, traveling, cooking, painting, and spending quality time with my family.

What inspires you to do the work that you do?

The work that I do is significant, even in the smallest capacity; from a smile of one student to an intervention for another. I’m inspired by differences. To be a teacher of clones is impossible, and quite frankly boring. I find excitement and inspiration in the ability to give each student a personal and unique outlook of their education.

When I was younger, I spent many years practicing the art of ballet. One year I had a teacher who was soft spoken in voice, but spoke loudly with her movements. She taught the class as one unit; same moves, same timing, same development, same beat. In a way, I only understood it as discipline, a skill that was absolutely needed for ballet. Until one day we were practicing jeté en tournant or tour jeté, a classic ballet move that I struggled with and truly dreaded.

For weeks I struggled to perfect the move and became very frustrated with myself. My teacher then approached me and said “all this time you’ve been trying to learn like the others, try learning like you”. She showed me a number of ways to practice tour jeté and told me to pick one that makes me the most comfortable. After almost giving up, I finally knew that I could still do the same moves, in the same timing, on the same beat, but in my own way.

Although it was a number of years ago, my ballet teacher has instilled the idea that finding a different way to achieve a goal doesn't make the goal less achivable or less of a goal. I'm inspired to help support students in finding ways to reach the goal in ways that's appropriate for them. Each scholar is different and I get excited to try new and different ways to help them succeed.

At Relay, we truly believe that a teacher is one of the most impactful people in a students’ life. Can you share with us someone who has impacted your life in a similar way?

I agree that teachers are some of the most impactful people in a scholars' life. I enjoy having that positive effect. For me, my parents were those impactful influencers in my life. I truly believe that teaching begins and continues at home.

Before I became a teacher, my parents taught me everything. They had patience, understanding, knowledge, and all the other components of teaching right there in my home. They taught me by demonstrating and leading by example for the many many lessons you learn as you grow up.

My parents had very different teaching styles but their end goal was to support my sisters and I with the skills and techniques that I carry with me now. The lessons and teachings I recieved from my parents were not limited to academics, it stretched across a broad spectrum of topics;religion, traditions, culture, characteristics, math, writing, reading and much more than I can think. I've been able to take in the teachings and reinforce them in my everyday life.

To me that's learning; being able to take what I know and apply it in the appropriate situations that relevant and being able to tap into to those skills and techniques that I'veaquired over time. That's the impact that I want to have on students. 

How has Relay helped you to become a more impactful teacher?

Relay has helped me become a more impactful teacher by providing me with a blueprint that showcases the foundation skills and techniques of teaching, from the most basic to the absolute advanced, and how to continue to build academically and social- emotionally within ourselves and our students.

What do you love about teaching in your respective city/town?

One thing I enjoy about working in my respective city is the diversity. The students and teachers come from all different walks of life, bringing their fair share of culture, tradition, history and much more into the education melting pot; essentially creating a true sense of uniqueness within our community.

Do you have a favorite quote, movie or book that helps motivate you & the work that you do?

Someone once said “the best teachers are the ones that change their minds”.

This quote resonates with me because it shines light on the everchanging dynamics of teaching. I cannot count the number of times I've made and changed a decision within a minute just to maximize the opportunity to benefit the scholars.

Teaching, for me, is truly a game of trial and error, fitting different puzzle pieces together to make a new picture every single time. I found that what works one day, week or year doesn’t always work the next. Changing my mind didn’t necessarily mean that I am indecisive, it means that I am willing to explore and captivate every possible way to help a scholar fully reach their potential.