This week’s blog is an “interview” with one of our newest (and youngest!) teachers at Ezra Academy. Sam King joined us this year as a math teacher and as our in-house substitute teacher. For those of you who don’t know him yet, you are in for a treat.
Can you think of a teacher who inspired you when you were younger, and if so, how did it affect you as a learner, as a teacher?
When I went to high school, my sophomore year, I had an English teacher who believed in me and my ideas in a way that nobody had ever previously done. As a learner, it validated in me my own ability to form considered opinions on subjects, and articulate those opinions to other people clearly. In short, it gave me confidence to intellectually explore and interrogate the world. I think as a teacher, because of the nature of the position, students can begin to feel as though their teachers are their biggest critics. I believe it's important to underscore to them that we're also among their biggest fans.
What is your educational background (your degree) and where did you go to elementary, high school and college?
I went to elementary school at Peck Place in Orange CT, middle and high school at Amity in Orange and Woodbridge, and university at Penn State in State College, PA. There, I gained a BS in Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Did you always plan on being a teacher?
I did not. While I was in college, I was actually doing undergraduate research for much of my time. I gradually began to realize that I did not find it fulfilling. I graduated pretty much as the world was realizing just how much of a problem Covid was, and started doing whatever work I could find. As I heard just how difficult students were finding it to learn math and physics online, I realized that one small way to help was to teach math, something schools were desperately needing. If I can come to work and contribute in just a small way to helping a few people, then that's fine by me.
So, you grew up in Orange and went to Amity. What's it like teaching so close to your hometown?
My commute is 15 minutes and teaching close to home certainly feels comfortable, for both good and otherwise. I can settle back into southern CT quickly, but there is a large part of me that wants to "see the world" in the wide-eyed fashion of youth.
What drew you to Ezra? What is it like working here but being from a non-Jewish faith?
Working here as someone who is not Jewish has been rewarding. I do feel as though I get a privileged look at the community as I come to work every day. The opportunities to learn as well as teach are endless. Something I am grateful for is that my parents hold to two different religious customs, and as children my brother's and I had a sort of natural comparative religions course baked into our lives. It's given me a love of seeing other traditions in action, and seeing not just the diversity but also the universality of the human spiritual experience only deepens my appreciation to be a part of it.
What surprises you about Ezra-- and working as an educator in a Jewish Day School? Is there anything you've learned or that you find unique about this community?
I absolutely love how much music and expression is baked into the school here. I love how often I walk down the corridor and hear the students singing, see new projects lining the walls, or see new responses to the whiteboard question in the front.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sam! He has quickly become a valued member of our staff here at Ezra. Stay tuned for next month’s teacher feature!