Staff Spotlight: Traci Kaplan


Interview by 8th grade student reporter Nahian Haider


Who influenced you to be a teacher?  Do you think teaching fourth grade is the right place for you?

My mom is a teacher, she’s a literacy specialist, and she inspired me to become a teacher.  I talk to her almost every day about what I’m teaching and my students. We are very close and she was definitely a huge influence on me becoming a teacher.

I love teaching fourth grade. I taught first grade and second grade and loved both of those ages at the time.  The biggest change between the lower grades to teaching 4th grade is the literature.  I love the books that fourth graders are reading.  I feel like 4th grade was when I fell in love with reading, so inspiring 4th graders to read is an amazing feeling.  I remember reading a lot of the books my students are reading and love being able to recommend books to them.  I also can do fun read alouds (like Harry Potter) that I couldn’t do if I was teaching younger grades.  [If you check out my classroom you will see how much I love Harry Potter!]

 Did you always want to be a teacher- or was there something else that you wished to do, but just felt it was not right for you?

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.  I remember when I was 7 years old and my younger brother was 4, he was listing all of the jobs he wanted to be when he grew up…he listed police officer, fireman, doctor, etc.  He filled an entire page of jobs he wanted and I remember thinking, “I don’t have to make a list, I want to be a teacher”.  I have known I wanted to be a teacher my whole life.  Before becoming a teacher, I worked as a swimming teacher, a camp counselor, and a babysitter, and loved working with kids.  That just confirmed that teaching was the right job for me. Then, I went to college and majored in elementary education and then got a teaching job.

Being a teacher sometimes can have challenges. How do you manage to balance everything out?

 Being a teacher can sometimes have challenges, but it is hard to focus on any challenges when you go into work everyday to work with an amazing group of students. Seeing my students persevering and working through their challenges motivates me to continue through any challenges I am having.  Also, maintaining a positive attitude always helps both me and my students.

Educationally, were there any teachers that influenced you in your career?

Yes, it was actually my fourth grade teacher! Ms. Skahan was my favorite teacher.  I remember after 4th grade, I always said I wanted to be a 4th grade teacher like Ms. Skahan… and now I am! She was so enthusiastic about everything.  She made learning really fun and I loved going to school every day.  I hope to be a teacher like her!

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I still see myself in the classroom as a teacher. I love being a classroom teacher, so I don’t see myself doing anything else for a long time.  I am getting my masters for literacy and think maybe in the distant future, if I were to ever leave the classroom, I would consider being a literacy coach or a literacy specialist.

Besides making lessons for your students, what do you do in your free time? Do you play an instrument or have any other hobbies?

I am currently in grad school so two days of the week I go to school after work and that takes a lot of my time.  I have played a lot of recreational sports like dodgeball, kickball, and softball but don’t have the time right now. When I finish grad school, I can get back into it.  I also am very active, I love to be outside walking around the city and going to the gym to lift weights.