Toni has over twenty years of experience teaching high school English, reading, and college prep writing in a suburban Connecticut school. She earned her BA in English from Clark University, her MA in teaching from Sacred Heart, and did postgraduate work in specialized reading instruction at Central Connecticut State University. Toni has received numerous awards and honors in her teaching career including a Connecticut Excellence Award, an Amistad fellowship, and a Fund for Teachers grant. Toni has taught students from grade nine honors students to seniors who plan to go straight to work. Due to her role as a reading specialist she has been able to spend a great deal of time working one-on-one or in small groups to help learners develop reading and writing skills. Toni’s sweet spot is teaching thematically, a method where she surrounds an anchor text with articles, stories, poems, and other short works that share similar themes and can provide contrast or context. Thematic teaching allows students to experience different ways of treating a core concept or idea; and culminating assignments are designed to push them to explore comparisons and contrasts across several pieces of writing. Writing, including personal writing, literary analysis, argumentation, and research projects—including grammar and usage—are core to Toni’s approach and are usually integrated into her plans. Some of Toni’s favorite thematic units focus on coming of age, self-identity, justice, the American dream, dystopias, and friendship. Within these units, texts such as Of Mice and Men, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Great Gatsby, Macbeth, The Things They Carried, The Round House, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings are perennial favorites.
Teaching Philosophy & Approach:
I believe in a personalized approach to instruction: Learners who have some choices of materials and tasks are engaged and will grow in their ability to analyze literature and write effectively. English is very much a skills-based class in which students develop the skill to read closely in order to analyze, interpret, and critique. The ability to write clearly for a variety of purposes and audiences can be developed through learning skills such as incorporating evidence and providing strong analysis. There are so many texts and possibilities for writing tasks that can really engage students. However, I do think that there is value in incorporating great literature that has stood the test of time so that learners can build their own understanding of literary history and can enjoy texts that are well-crafted and insightful.
- Middle (6 - 8)
- High School (9 - 12)
- Learning Coach
- Full-Semester Classes
- Full-Year Classes
- Partial Year Classes (Mini Courses)
- Creative Writing
- Comprehension and Grammar