Welcome to 2016!
It’s been a busy year already, and we hope that you all have had time to nominate a member for the spotlight by clicking this form. Hopefully you also had time to enjoy some freedom, enjoy good company, and get ready for the second half of our school year.
As the temperature finally drops into real Winter levels, we are shining our January spotlight on James Kobialka for his work! James graduated from Clark University and has been teaching in Worcester since 2010. He’s taught science and english to middle and high school students. He currently teaches at University Park Campus School and lives in Worcester with his fiancè.
The colleague who recommended James said: “James, better known as ‘Mr. K’, is a powerfully engaging, dynamic and empathetic educator. He balances boundless energy and passion for teaching with an accessible, straight-from-the-heart approach that is inspirational for students and teachers alike. The projects he offers are sophisticated, fascinating, and challenging. James is always there to help every individual, both in and out of the classroom, and additionally he is a committed advocate for the EAW. For these reasons and many more, he is truly cherished in our community.”
An Interview with Mr. Kobialka
How’d It All Start?
Actually, I’ve always worked in education. My first job, when I was 11, was to walk down to the library in my town and read books to the 4 and 5 year olds in the summer. The librarians would give me a ten dollar bill, and I’d spend it on comic books on the walk back home. From there… I’ve been all sorts of things. Preschool worker, kindergarten snack-wrangler, a mediator, a tutor, a TA, a RA, and probably more. I think I always knew that I’d end up teaching. When I went to Clark and found out about their MAT program, it just all fell into place.
What keeps you in the profession?
The youth. Every day I get to go into a job where I get paid to teach amazing new concepts to really interesting people. I get to watch them develop and learn and laugh (and, on bad days, cry and complain), which is easily the most satisfying thing I could do with my day. Even though it’s hard and the hours are long, every day brings new surprises and experiences.
Beyond that, my faculty is an incredibly talented and dedicated group of individuals. I know that no matter what is going on, the people I work with will be enthusiastic and pushing themselves and their students. I am constantly inspired by the other professionals in my building. I always look forward to seeing them on Monday. (And the other days!)
What gives you the most joy?
Excited students. When someone tells me that science is their favorite class, or the whole class gets excited about a new idea, or a student turns in a five page essay instead of a one paragraph response. When youth take action on their own, or ask me for advice, or show that they really understand something. When I meet a student I taught years ago and they remember me. When a parent says they’ve heard something good about me. Knowing that I am making a positive impact on someone else’s life gives me the most joy.
You’re still fairly new to the profession. What advice do you have for other new teachers?
Find friends, teach what you love, and don’t let the bad days stop you. Other teachers – even if they don’t have the same kids or the same subject – are your best resource. Find mentors whose teaching you admire and copy the things you like (and a huge thank you to Pete Weyler, my mentor). Find ways to make the curriculum your own – there are dozens of ways to teach the state standards, so don’t be boring! And don’t let your failures stop you. You’ll mess up. It happens. Keep trying new things until something really works, and then let that moment buoy you.
I feel honored to have been nominated – a HUGE thank you to my colleagues, my students, and all of the others who make my days so wonderful and challenging. Thank you for this chance to speak. I hope that many other teachers in Worcester get a chance to share their stories!
If you have any memories or stories about Mr. Kobialka, feel free to comment below.
And remember, we need your help to find and recognize outstanding members! Let us know who deserves the spotlight!
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @eaworcester.