The Chalk Blog

Teacher Feature: Josh Petitt

Interview with Josh Petitt

When we were kids, our minds were blown when we saw teachers outside of school. It was so out of context, but mysteriously cool: we saw them as humans, rather than just as their professional selves. 

To this end, the Learners Edge Chalk Blog interviews teachers in a regular segment called "Teacher Feature!" To hear more about the people behind the magic in the classroom, read on, and be inspired by these fantastic education superstars.


Josh Petitt is a middle school English Language and English Language Arts teacher at St. Paul City School, a pre-k through eighth grade charter school near the capital. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters of Arts in Teaching through Hamline University. Josh lives in Hugo with his wife, two daughters, ages ten and seven, as well his son, who is three years old. The family also has a dog named Slipper.  

Why did you decide to become a teacher? 

"As is usually case with major decisions, there is not single reason. After earning my undergraduate degree, I tried a series of jobs over several years. Most of them paid reasonably well, but they also left me feeling incomplete. I knew I needed to look for something wherein I felt I could make a difference, wherein I felt I mattered beyond the bottom line. At that point, I started volunteering, and one assignment was a middle school in Burnsville, MN, where I enthusiastically volunteered with one of their English as a Second Language classes. After the first day in that school, I knew I wanted to teach middle schoolers; I simply enjoyed the children that much. So why did I become a teacher? I suppose the easiest answer is that I enjoy spending time with adolescents."

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Teacher Appreciation

Teacher Feature: Carol DeGeorge

Interview with Carol DeGeorge

When we were kids, our minds were blown when we saw teachers outside of school. It was so out of context, but mysteriously cool: we saw them as humans, rather than just as their professional selves. 

To this end, the Learners Edge Chalk Blog interviews teachers in a regular segment called "Teacher Feature!" To hear more about the people behind the magic in the classroom, read on, and be inspired by these fantastic education superstars.


Carol DeGeorge is a Social Studies teacher at Fox Lane High School in Bedford, New York. She earned her BS in Communications and her MS degree in Secondary Education/Social Studies from Iona College.  Carol also holds a Masters in School Administration and will soon be completing her third Master's degree, in Human Resources. She has been teaching for 27 years, including time teaching in Poland and China. In fact, she has traveled to all 7 continents, and has taken students to Ghana, South Africa, the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Russia, and Eastern Europe.

Why did you decide to become a teacher? 

"Not quite sure why I went into teaching, but the reality is that when it comes time to retire, it is not going to be easy. I will miss the kids and the connections I have made with them. I will miss the silliness and fun I have as a teacher."

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Teacher Appreciation

Mother's Day Ideas

Using Instagram for Mother's Day Craft Inspiration

It’s a Mother’s Day tradition for students to create something crafty to celebrate their moms. From the traditional-tried-and-true projects that use pasta or popsicle sticks to the mason jar indoor herb garden trendy, we’ve got you covered!

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Holidays

Teachers We'll Never Forget

Past Teachers Who Shaped Our Futures...

My life is full of teachers – parents, in-laws, friends, husband – and I was in the classroom as a trained teacher for 11 years. There’s no end to the sacrifices regularly made by educators and education professionals, and we really should be thanking them year-round. There are many all-consuming professions, but education is one of the unique ones that has the responsibility for other human beings, so it’s pretty difficult to get an educator’s brain to power down and stop thinking about teaching and students. Teachers do it all, and they do it because of their true love of children and learning.  

Below, you can see how my colleagues and I couldn’t wait to talk about the teachers we have loved and appreciated in our educational journeys. Many, many thanks to these teachers, and to teachers everywhere!

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Teacher Appreciation

Part 2 of 2: Teacher of the Year! What it's like to win!

Interview with Teacher of the Year Award Winner: Jill Runde 

*Part 2 of 2: A blog series on past Teacher of the Year Winners. Did you miss part one? Click here!*

What do Lunchables, Suave, and a Teacher of the Year award have in common?  

Jill Runde, that’s what. 

With a successful career as a corporate marketer for Oscar Mayer and Helene Curtis on the line, Jill embraced her calling to help kids. Enjoy this interview outlining Jill’s journey from corporate marketer to Teacher of the Year in 2017. 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Teacher of the Year

Part 1 of 2: Teacher of the Year! What it's like to win!

Interview with Teacher of the Year Award Winner: Katy Smith 

*Part 1 of 2: A blog series on past Teacher of the Year Winners. Stay tuned as we talk to Jill Runde, 2017 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year Award Winner this Friday, May 3rd.*

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life?

Since I’ve been around a while, there are a few “hardest things” from which I could choose, but definitely at the top is having a child. 

I was a new sleep-deprived, lonely, (and even a little scared) mom, when I walked to the mailbox and found a brochure that said “Wanted: BABIES.”  

While reading through the information, I realized they weren’t asking just for babies, they wanted parents, too! I was intrigued—and it was in that moment that I discovered a program called ECFE—Early Childhood Family Education. The program said it was a place where mess-making, play, and discovery were encouraged, a place to connect with other parents in the community, and a place to learn about parenting and to receive support.

Besides the ECFE program itself, I learned about the role of parent educators in the ECFE program. I grew to understand that the role of parent educators was to provide research on parenting, best practices and support to the parents of 0-5 year oldsOne amazing parent educator I met along the way was Katy Smith. Katy won the Teacher of the Year award in 2011 and has created a following through her advocacy for children and families.  

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Teacher of the Year

Professional Learning Series: Reflection

5 FUN Ideas for Getting Your Professional Learners to Reflect

John Dewey once said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” Mr. Dewey understood the importance of reflection, and we know you do too! For example, after you teach a lesson, you probably analyze, re-analyze, and then reflect on your analysis. But if you are on the fence about reflection, consider the research on adult learning and reflection. 

Transformational Learning is described as a form of adult “…learning that changes the way individuals think about themselves and their world, and that involves a shift of consciousness.” (TEAL, 2011) A key component of Transformational Learning is provision of opportunities for participants to think critically and reflect. Additionally, Self-directed Learning, where adult learners take the initiative in learning, includes important components like self-evaluation of work and reflection. Finally, Experiential Learning, where participants experience the learning vs. memorizing information, ensures learners have a chance to observe situations related to the topic reflectively. 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Professional Learning Model

Must Read Books for Teachers in 2019

Stay up-to-date with the best books this year!

There are three things we know well at Learners Edge - books, learning, and choice. 

  1. Teachers LOVE books. I have a team full of former teachers who now write content for Learners Edge as part of the Curriculum and Instruction Team. And guess what…we still love books! From my desk, I can see about fifteen books on one team member’s desk alone and between the four of us writers, there are 64 books for an average of 16 each! That’s a lot of books! 
  2. Teachers LOVE learning…always have and always will! The Curriculum and Instruction Team loves writing courses on new topics because as we read the text, we learn. When we design the course and develop assignments to ensure you fully comprehend key concepts and can apply new ideas in your classroom, we learn even more. We love learning just like you! 
  3. Teachers want CHOICE. While this has been a more recent revelation for us, it’s clear: Personalized professional learning combined with choice on topics is more motivating, more engaging, and more fun for educators. It increases ownership and provides opportunities to grow in areas of need and/or interest identified by the learner! You! For that reason, we have five courses in our Personalized Continuing Education category. We are the only online continuing education company to offer these types of courses. Two of these courses allow you, the learner, to choose the book. iCourse is meant to be completed independently while Text Seminar is meant to be done in a group of two or more! Your learning, your topic, your way! 
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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Literacy

Professional Learning Series: Application

Make Professional Learning Applicable to Your Participants

What would Ben do? (WWBD)

Ben (Franklin) was just down right smart. He once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This quote is often used when discussing educating children, but when you have a room full of adult learners, how do you get them involved?  

Well, WWBD? Ben would probably offer opportunities for adult learners to apply their learning. This is one excellent method to involve the learner.  

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Professional Learning Model

Climbing Behavior Mountain

Challenges and Rewards

Hardest thing I have ever done (physically): Hike from Wild Basin Trailhead to Ouzel Lake Campsite and back again in Rocky Mountain National Park with a 40 lb. pack.  

Most rewarding thing I have ever done (physically): Hike from Wild Basin Trailhead to Ouzel Lake Campsite and back again in Rocky Mountain National Park with a 40 lb. pack. 

Hardest thing I have ever done (professionally): Teach students with emotional and/or behavioral disorders. 

Most rewarding thing I have ever done (professionally): Teach students with emotional and/or behavioral disorders. 

When I sat down to write a blog on classroom management, I started thinking about experiences I have had in my life that were similar to changing challenging student behavior. The hike referenced above came to mind. I was surprised at the number of parallels. Take a look!

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Classroom Management

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Offering more than 100 print-based or online courses for teachers, you can earn the graduate credit you need for salary advancement and meet your professional development needs. Contact us today to get started!

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