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Top Teaching Blogger

Mary Blow

We must be the change we want to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

I teach sixth grade English at Lowville Academy Middle School in New York's Black River Valley, located in the rolling foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. Mahatma Gandhi’s inspirational words are posted on my classroom wall as a reminder that my goal is not limited to teaching sixth graders to read and write, but to empower them with the tools to make the changes they want to see in the world. It is a reminder to my students that they have the power to become productive contributors to society as well as great leaders. I want my students to believe that barriers can be broken, and that if they are willing to work hard enough, they can be whoever they aspire to be.

Lowville is an agriculture-dependent community in the heart of Lewis County, one of the lowest socioeconomic counties in our state. Despite economic struggles, Lowville is rich in small-town culture, which is attractive to many of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Drum. We are pioneers in alternative energy. Not only are we home to the infamous Maple Ridge Wind Farm on Tug Hill, the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi, but we have a nearby biomass plant and a hydropower plant.

Becoming a teacher was a career change for me. Married and with children, I earned my Associate in Arts degree at Jefferson Community College; a Bachelor of Arts in English and Childhood Education at Utica College of Syracuse University; a Master of Science in Education Literacy Specialist (grades 5–12) at SUNY Potsdam; and a NYS certification to teach English (grades 7–12).

I am a Scholastic magazine addict, which has led to many wonderful experiences. I love designing thematic units and supplementing them with articles that enrich our learning experiences and keep my curriculum fresh. Serving as a teacher advisor for both Scholastic’s Scope literary magazine and Scholastic Teachables has provided many years of inspirational and rewarding experiences. I have written or collaborated on many Scholastic teacher guides: An Educator’s Guide to I Survived by Lauren Tarshis, the Scope Common Core Reader, the Storyworks Common Core Reader, and “The Test-Readiness Activity You Need” on The Scope Idealbook blog.

In my inclusive classroom, we have one-to-one computer technology that is opening our classroom up to a world of infinite possibilities. We collaborate in class and online, putting our digital literacy skills to the test. Each year, my students and I explore and evaluate the newest apps, extensions, and add-ons that support our learning goals and individual student needs. Visit our website, Mrs. Blow’s English Class, where you will find resources for students, parents, and teachers.

I believe that you are not learning unless you are pushed out of your comfort zone, which is why networking with colleagues in and beyond our school districts is so important. Teaching is a career that requires a support system while we are taking risks, putting ourselves out there and breaking ground. A simple conversation online or in person can provide a long sought after solution or rekindle the spark in an exhausted teacher. It is my desire to share and learn from others that has brought me to this exciting endeavor, contributor to Scholastic’s Top Teaching blog.

Top Teaching bloggers are paid contributors for the Scholastic Teachers website.



Susan Cheyney

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