Szkotak Oswego Teacher In The Spotlight

MINETTO, NY – Jennifer Szkotak is the teacher in the spotlight for March for the Oswego City School District.

Szkotak has been a teacher at Minetto Elementary School for 11 years.

Jennifer Szkotak
Jennifer Szkotak

During her tenure at Minetto she has taught Kindergarten and has been the AIS Math Teacher for the last two years.

Previous to coming to Minetto she taught Pre – Kindergarten at the Early Learning Center in Oswego.

In addition to teaching she is also a member of the team of K – 6 teachers who have been working for the past year on developing over 800 SMART Notebooks for “Everyday Math” that can be used with the SMART Board.

Szkotak grew up in Baldwinsville and graduated from C.W. Baker High School in 1993.

She started her college career at SUNY Morrisville and majored in Nursing.

Upon graduation from Morrisville with her AAS Degree she transferred to SUNY Oswego and enrolled in the Elementary Education program.

She earned her BS from SUNY Oswego and is certified to teach N – 6 with concentrates in both Math and Science.  She earned her Master’s Degree from SUNY Oswego in Curriculum and Instruction.

For her the best part of her job is working with the kids and seeing their progress as she noted,  “I get to work with every grade level from Kindergarten to 6th grade.  I get to work with the youngest ‘Math Brains’ all the way up to our young adolescent ‘Math Brains’.  . . There is something new and different every day – it’s exciting!”

A visit to Szkotak’s classroom finds actively engaged third graders who are truly enjoying their Math lesson.

All students have an active role in the day’s lesson on Exploring Fractions.  Szkotak has prepared a Math lesson on Fractions complete with color–coded manipulatives.

While working with the manipulatives students are creating ‘wholes’ and referring to ‘fractional parts.’

In addition to being hands-on and engaging lesson is also a vocabulary-rich example that models good and appropriate use of subject-specific terminology including: Equal Parts, Fraction, One–Fourth, One out of Four among others.

The lesson is engaging and effective; the students in her class are active learners and they are ready to do their math!

During the lesson Szkotak easily differentiates her instruction to reach all of her learners through the use of Turn and Talk, varying her Wait Time, hands–on instruction, small and large group activities and Interactive/Multimedia SMART Board use.

At the completion of the portion of the lesson where the students worked with the manipulatives the group moves to the rug area in front of the SMART Board.

Szkotak pulls up the ‘Fraction Flags’ interactive Math game that is available on the site under resources.

The students are excited about going to the SMART Board and show a level of comfort when using the technology.

Szkotak is encouraging and supportive of her students’ efforts.

She is excited about the district SMART Board initiative and said, “I love the fact that my SMART Board is something new and fresh for my students, especially with my Kindergarten students – they are amazed with the ‘magical’ things that the SMART Board can do. As I go up in the grades they are becoming wizards with the SMART Board and their motivation to want to learn is so exciting for me to see. What more can I ask for . . . the hands–on and interaction with each other is so great when it comes to learning Math on the SMART Board.”

She continued, “The first question when my students walk into my room is usually, ‘Are we using the SMART Board today?’ These students live in a tech generation where their hands/fingers are always moving this way and that way . . . so the SMART Board is perfect for my Math learners; it is a huge motivator during my small group lessons in all grades K-6. I love watching their eyes light up.“

Szkotak is also grateful for working with such great teammates.

She said, “Minetto is a great place to come to work every day, not only do I get to work with students but I get to work with all faculty K-6. To all my ‘Minetto Mentors,’ and to my new Math AIS Teammates, thank you all for your help and support each and every day of my teaching career!”

Along with being a leader in the classroom and an excellent role model for her students, Szkotak is a big Syracuse University basketball fan.

She also enjoys watching her young son play basketball and soccer at the local YMCA.

In her free time  she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Her hobbies include watching movies, listening to music and traveling with friends.

In the summer she enjoys spending time at Oneida Lake, jet skiing. She has been married to her husband, Bob, for 10 years who is also in the education profession.

They are the proud parents of two young children, Colin who is five and Caydence who is 10 months.

The family doesn’t have any pets yet – but they do have a special angel who makes them smile every day.

For all that she has done to integrate technology into her classroom and to educate, engage and excite the students at Minetto Elementary School she is being recognized as our Teacher Spotlight for March 2010.