Teachers of the Year: Ana Weiss

Gifted and Talented Pre-Kindergarten Teacher at Feynman School in North Bethesda, MD

Nominated by: Yeajin S.

“Ms. Weiss’ passion and devotion toward the whole class is just overwhelming. She goes out of her way to create extra curriculum so that students can be exposed to more diverse and fun experiences along with education. She also pays great attention to each child.

Over the year, my child and the whole class became not only more knowledgeable, but also very responsible and grown-up individuals. I am very lucky to have her as my child’s teacher.”

“Walls should never divide parent/teacher relationships. Instead, we should be in this together.”

Q&A with Ana Weiss

What originally got you interested in teaching?

Teaching for me was one of those things that came naturally. I always had a love for any outlet that allowed for creativity and a personal spin on projects and teaching offers this opportunity daily. Education keeps me interested year after year because it is “ever changing” and allows you to challenge yourself and keep fresh. When I was younger, I had some real rock star educators who planned some amazing lessons, projects and field experiences. Going to school on the Hill was unique because when we were learning about something, we would go out and see it in real life at the museums, galleries or gardens on the National Mall. These experiences and teachers shaped my early teaching career and future.

Why do you think teachers are important?

For this next generation, we will be the ones who are equipping students with skills that have never been focused on and discussed as much as they are in today’s high-tech/high demand world. Collaboration, cooperation, kindness, leadership and compassion have always been there, but it has become even more dire as educators to bring these life skills to the fore-front and prepare our students for a “work world.” Failure, challenge and introspection will be key features in ultimate long-term success. We know that we are counted on to be present for the kids. At the end of the year, you get to re-read the wonderful and thoughtful notes from parents who tell you how much you have impacted their child’s life. You are reminded how important and needed you are. This appreciation resets your mission year after year.

What’s your funniest teaching moment?

In Pre-K, all teaching moments can turn into funny moments. Not one sticks out, but if you talk to any early childhood teacher, laughter makes our school day complete and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My Pre-K students are very good comedians and have even fine-tuned the ability to deliver a punch line. I enjoy being their audience as they “test out” their material daily—particularly at snack or lunch with bits of sandwich or crackers coming out of their mouths and a big toothy smile to follow; with a wink.

What is the single best piece of advice you can give parents of preschoolers?

Take in every moment. When I put together the Pre-K graduation slideshow, I tear up a bit because as the weeks, months and seasons pass you forget about how much they grow — physically, cognitively and socially. It is a wonderful showcase for my parents and a physical representation of the idea of not taking each moment of their four-year-old world for granted. Celebrate together, high-five, offer encouragement on those down days and offer lifts on those frustrating days. But take time to savor your kids. Go for walks together, give them a smile and squeeze whenever possible.

How can parents and teachers work together to empower and engage children?

I always joke with my Pre-K parents at Back-to-School Night that I get their kids at the “best part of their day” and I give them back after they have given it their all. So I apologize in advance if they are now tired, ready for play and or dinner. With that being said, I remind them that it is important for teachers and parents to become a “team” and remain open with communication, respect and consideration for one another. I always make it a point to remember to “thank” all of my parent volunteers that help out during field trips, class celebrations and those who come in as “special celebrity guest readers.” Having them front and center in my room sends a message to the kids that they care and that they want to be part of their child’s day (and I am grateful for this).

In my final email to my parents at the end of the year I always remind them of the message, “it take a village to raise kids” and it does. Walls should never divide parent/teacher relationships. Instead, we should be in this together and that is a consistent message in my communication with my families from “Meet the Teacher” days to when I watch them walk out the door on the last day of school. We did it together.

About WF Staff

Washington FAMILY Staff

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