Glens Falls City School District recognizes national Teacher Appreciation Week by highlighting committed and enthusiastic teachers from every one of our schools each day of the week! Read on for an inside interview with Annemarie Dumar—one of the most dynamic teachers around our district.
Annemarie Dumar grew up on Long Island and attended Garden City High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in secondary education and theatre arts from Siena College. Her Master’s of Science in reading is from the College of Saint Rose, and her Master’s of Science in Information Science is from the University of Albany. She’s been teaching for 23 years and this is her sixth year in Glens Falls.
What makes your teaching and learning environment unique?
I believe that in order to successfully engage students it’s imperative to understand their needs and interests. I also try to give students control over their learning. The more involved students are in decision making, the more engaged they are in their learning. My library has changed significantly since I came to Kensington in 2017. It is a flexible learning space that is designed to meet the needs and preferences of my school community. We also have a Makerspace full of a variety of resources to encourage creativity and exploration. In both our Makerspace and our library students have the opportunity to request what they would like to see, and I do my best to fulfill their requests.
In 2018 I genrefied our collection based on how I saw our students and staff using the library. When I came to Kensington I realized that the organization of the books in our fiction collection didn’t match how teachers and students wanted to use it. I would have a teacher come to me and say that she was starting a mystery unit and could I show her where our mystery books were. At the time our fiction collection was organized according to the traditional Dewey method of just in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. That’s great when you know what you’re looking for, but not necessarily when you’re browsing, or looking for a certain type of book. I wanted to make the collection easier for teachers and students to access, so I researched the pros and cons of Dewey vs. genrefied, talked to colleagues who had genrefied their collections, and made the decision to genrefy. To do that, I analyzed all of our titles, came up with genres that best matched our collection (historical fiction, science fiction, mystery, scary, realistic fiction, fantasy, sports, classics, adventure, animals, humor). Then I decided the genre where each book in the collection belonged, stickered them, changed them in our catalog, and made signs to help people find the genre they were looking for. It has made students infinitely more independent in finding books they want to read and has helped me in working with students to learn about themselves as readers.
What’s the best thing about GF Nation?
The best thing about GF Nation is the people. We have wonderful students who inspire me, make me think, and make me laugh every day. Glens Falls has dedicated teachers who I love having the opportunity to work with. As a librarian, I love when I get to teach alongside classroom teachers. Every time I work with a teacher here I never fail to learn something from what they do in the classroom. Our administration has been wholly supportive of my professional growth. I always feel encouraged to learn and grow to improve my practice and feel appreciated for my efforts. Finally, I have found our community to be tremendously supportive of our work. We have wonderful PTAs and parents who are always willing to help.
Describe your best lesson ever, or one you and students really enjoy.
My favorite unit to teach is video creation and editing in my 3rd and 4th grade technology classes. Students are always so excited to learn this and are completely engaged. Their work never fails to surprise and impress me.
One of my favorite lessons this year was something I had never tried before. In November I read my first graders Balloons Over Broadway in library class. We decided to design our own balloons for a KRS Thanksgiving parade. When it came time for us to actually make the balloons I was concerned that 1st graders would need help bringing their creations to life. I talked to my 4th graders and their teachers and they agreed to help us. We were able to pair 4th graders with 1st graders to make their balloons. Then our 4th graders helped them attach their balloon to a robot and drive it in front of a green screen that we later edited to make it look like their balloons were flying over Broadway. It was a wonderful experience for both grade levels and students were proud of what they created. I think this will become an annual project.
Why do you think it’s important to teach the way you do?
When students are given choice in their learning and the opportunity to learn about what interests them, they are more engaged. There’s nothing better than seeing students excited in the classroom.