Teacher of the Year: Corey Spinosi

5th-grade teacher at Oak View Elementary in Fairfax, Va.

Nominated by Sheila Bartley:

“Mr. Spinosi is beloved by both students and parents. He is positive, kind, creative and effective. I have watched my son grow into an engaged learner within the last few months, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Mr. Spinosi. His students come to school excited to learn and listen every day.”

“I just recently discovered that Mr. Spinosi was a key supporter of our school’s “Eagle’s Nest” program. In an effort to build our school community across all grades, we have breakout sessions where kids from every grade level meet up and discuss an issue or topic, led by classroom teachers and counselors. I love that Mr. Spinosi looks at the entire school community and helps facilitate change and improvement well beyond his own classroom door. He is a wonderful example to our students and a great advocate for our school community.”

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Q&A with Corey Spinosi


What originally got you interested in teaching?
My passion for teaching began when I was a child. You would often find me playing school with the younger kids on my street and I was the teacher. In elementary school, I always volunteered to help my teachers doing whatever they asked of me. I feel my elementary school teachers were all responsible in inspiring me to become a teacher. The little things they would do in class would excite me, such as moving our desks around giving us the opportunity to become friends with everyone, passing out stickers after a spelling test, and using their special chalk to write on the chalkboard. I knew very early on that one day I would want to have my own classroom and do those little things to excite and inspire my own students the way my teachers did for me. As I progressed to high school, I was determined to become an educator later receiving my degree in elementary education and a minor in in special education from Slippery Rock University
in Pennsylvania.

Why do you think teachers are important?
Teachers have an extremely important job to do. We are responsible for preparing our students for the future. Teachers do not just teach different subjects and assess them on their academic success, we are also responsible for our student’s well-being, mental health, and making sure our students are kind and respectful global citizens. Teachers share many of the responsibilities that our parents have. We must know how to have control over 25 plus students’ behaviors at one time whilst making sure each student is feeling positive about their school day and ready to learn. It can certainly be exhausting, but teachers have a special inner voice that reminds us every day that our responsibility is to effectively prepare our students for their future.

What’s your funniest teaching moment?
Funny teaching moments occur every day! I am not perfect and can easily stumble on my words, misspell a word on the board, call a student by the wrong name, and even fall out of my own chair. My class and I learn how to laugh at ourselves very early on in the school year.

Heading into this new school year, what are you most excited for?
Each school year has been completely different from the previous ones. These differences are because of the students. I am most excited to meet my new class! My students are the ones who create the classroom each year. They design how the classroom will look, create the rules the room should follow, and allow their tiny personalities begin to grow bigger and bigger each day. The school year isn’t about data collection, collaboration meetings, or checking the constant emails that come through. The school year is about building connections and relationships with our students to ensure their school year is successful. I am excited to meet my future class!

What are three things you use in your classroom every day and could never live without?
I could never live without patience, kindness, and humor in my classroom. External objects and routines are great, but without these internal character traits, my classroom would not be successful. I demonstrate patience each day even when it gets difficult. It can certainly be a challenge to show patience all day long, but I do my best and it pays off. I not only teach but model kindness in my classroom, as well. I teach my students to treat everyone with kindness even when you are upset with them. Lastly, showing a bit of humor in my classroom is one of the most effective tools in my toolbox. I want my students to laugh while learning. Humor gets children to be more attentive and actively be part of their learning.

If I weren’t teaching, I’d be …
Finding some way to work with children. Who wants to work with boring adults, right? Children are funny, enthusiastic, carefree, and prevent the many stressful migraines people may have in an office full of adult workers. Camp counselor, sports coach, full-time caretaker…one of those might work for me!


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