Since the very beginning of the podcast, teachers have been a wonderful, active part of the SSR community. I’ve been consistently amazed by the wonderful conversations I’ve had about books and reading with so many educators via social media. In celebration of that (and because teachers are literally doing the most important job in the world), each month on the blog, you’ll find a…
This monthly series will give us a chance to learn more about the teachers in our community, the work they’re doing, and the books they love. I’m so excited about it! If there’s a teacher in your life who you’d like to nominate for an SSR blog Teacher Feature, please drop me a note! In the meantime, though, we’re kicking off the series with Juli Stellato, a first grade teacher in the Bethlehem Area School District in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Juli just happens to be my sister (technically my stepsister, but we don’t like to use that word), and I’m so proud of her passion for her students. Outside of the classroom, she’s also pursuing her master’s degree in educational leadership with a principal certification at Lehigh University (smarty pants!). Juli will finish her degree next May, and you can bet that our whole family will be cheering louder than anyone else in the room when that happens! In her free time, she enjoys working out, running, traveling, and photography. Learn more about Juli’s work on her teacher Instagram and Twitter… and keep scrolling! Love you, Jul!
Tell us more about your life as a teacher! Where do you teach? What grades/ages/subjects?
I started my career teaching fourth grade at Fountain Hill Elementary School in the Bethlehem Area School District. I am "built by Bethlehem," having graduated from Liberty High School, so it was very special for me to receive a job within my hometown district. After my first year, I taught second grade in Fountain Hill. I will move to first grade for the upcoming school year, and I am very excited! I have loved every moment thus far in my teaching career, and I’m really starting to realize the impact I have on these young minds.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I sincerely love kids — it's truly that simple! I knew I was going to be a teacher from the second I could imagine myself with a job. I played around with a few other careers briefly, but I have always been led back to teaching. My grandmother, a teacher herself, always told me it was my calling, and I believe she was right!
What do you most remember about your favorite teacher from childhood?
As a kid, you always remember the teachers who go above and beyond for you. I have a handful of favorite teachers, and every memory of them revolves around the strong relationship we built. I am still in contact with some of them today, since we now actually teach alongside each other! You remember the teachers who love you and take the time to build a relationship with you.
What was your favorite book when you were growing up?
I was obsessed with Junie B. Jones as a kid!
What is your favorite book to share with your students? What book do you think every teacher should be reading with their students?
Wonder by R.J. Palacio — I’ve said over and over again that this book is magical for young learners.
How do you cultivate a love of reading with your students?
I have learned in my time teaching both fourth and second grade that no matter what age they are, children love to be read to. I try to pick a book a year — if not two — to read aloud during any extra minutes we have at the end of each day. This shows students my love for reading, and allows them to become invested in a book. I also try to practice what I preach, so if I give the students a few minutes to read their library book (SSR!), I am finding a book to read, too. Even if the book is for my graduate classes, it still counts!
What is your favorite episode of The SSR Podcast?
I love them all, but I received a personal shout-out in the Charlotte's Web episode, so that may be my favorite!
What is the best book you've read recently outside of the classroom?
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis truly changed my life in all the wonderful ways it could have.