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Profile and photos by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Alivia Maus grew up with her two younger siblings on her parents’ small farm in Milan just south of Ann Arbor. As a child, she was involved in agricultural programs throughout the county and state. Maus attended Milan Area School grades 3-12. After graduating from Milan High School, she attended Washtenaw Community College while deciding on a career path.
She later went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education focusing in mathematics and language arts from Eastern Michigan University, and a master’s degree in elementary reading and literacy from Walden University.
Maus has taught first grade for the last five years at Dicken Elementary and has been in the education field for 15 years. Her experiences include working as a teaching assistant, an after-school program coordinator, a substitute teacher, a fourth grade teacher, fifth grade teacher, and a reading intervention teacher.
Maus and her husband Brian live in Ypsilanti with their three children, Isabelle, Brennen, and Parker; and cats Sam and Pippin. Isabelle is in the third grade and Brennen is in kindergarten at Dicken. Parker, 3, spends his days with Grandma and Grandpa or at his aunt’s house playing with his cousins.
When she is not in school, Maus can be found her running kids to the soccer fields, the dance studio, or basketball, and attending their games and performances. When she isn’t attending her children’s sporting events, Maus enjoys U-M sports, working in the garden, bike riding, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
What is your most vivid memory of being in first grade? I don’t actually remember much about first grade itself, but when I was six I did manage to smash my hand while carrying wood for our wood burning stove and broke some of my fingers. I ended up spending the part of the winter in a hot pink cast.
What was always written on your report card in grade school? There was always something written about talking too much or being overly social. Apparently, I like to talk a lot.
What inspired you to become a teacher? I feel like I like I feel into the teaching profession naturally. Growing up I was highly involved in both 4-H and FFA program and in both of those organizations I found myself in leadership positions within the county and state. Some of the roles I would take on would be working with younger children, guiding and teaching them about agriculture and animals. When it came to deciding a path in college it was a natural transition from my role in those organizations to the classroom.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about teaching? About learning? In my six years at AAPS, I have learned that no two groups of students are ever the same and what works for one group of students may not work for another.
Describe an average workday. My workdays are non-stop from the time I rise to the time I head to bed. I rise around 6 a.m. and my days usually end around 10 p.m. It starts with getting three kids and myself out the door with all their stuff. After dropping off my three-year-old, I typically arrive at school around 8:15 a.m. with my older two children and the school day starts. The day usually flies by full of lessons and activities with my mornings mostly focused on literacy and social studies and my afternoons focused on science and math. I spend my lunch either working on my to-do list, chatting with other staff, or with one of my kids and their friends. After school some days, I am in meetings around the district until 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. and other days I am running my kids to and from their activities.
What advice would you give to a first-year teacher? Go slow to go fast! Take the time to make sure your classroom environment, community, and management are the way you want them at the beginning of the year and really get to know the kiddos. When these things happen the curriculum is easier to teach.
Favorite websites: I love Pinterest, Magnolia Market, Amazon, Scholastic, and Netflix.
What were you doing in your last selfie? Date night with my husband. We went out for sushi and a movie while the kids were at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s for the night.
Apps you can’t live without: Personally: Google Calendar, Instagram, and Target. Professionally: Seesaw, Raz-Kids, and Scratch Jr.
Three favorite devices: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch.
How do you stay organized? Staying organized is both challenging and mandatory for me. Staying organized helps to balance everything in my life. I put everything on my calendar and create lists of tasks to complete. I try hard not to keep things unnecessarily, try to purge often, and put or file things away quickly. I do have a “do it” later tub on my teacher station where I can put things until I have a chance to get them put away, but only one tub and when that tub is full I know I have to get it emptied.
What’s your favorite to-do list manager? Google Tasks.
What is unique about teaching at Dicken? Dicken is a Leader in Me school and we are working hard to change the culture of our school, to help students take on more leadership roles, responsibilities, and ownership of their learning.
What is the most rewarding part of teaching? The most rewarding part teaching for me has been seeing students who come into first grade with very little reading skills, bloom and become confident readers. When this happens, I know that I have helped set them up to be successful learners.
What has surprised you most about the profession? The thing that has surprised me the most has been the relationships I have formed with students and families I have had the pleasure of teaching. Being in the same building for several years now I have had the opportunity to see students go from first to fifth grade and still have relationships with them and their parents.
What do you wish everyone realized about the work of a teacher? I wish people understood that teachers spend more hours working than the hours in a school day. Even when I am not actually working, I am still constantly thinking about ways to improve my teaching or activities to do with my students. I think is it also important to know that many teachers do in fact work during the summer and I— like many other teachers—did work last summer. I spent a great deal of time working from home helping to develop the new elementary report card and writing rubrics to accompany the report card. During prior summers, I have taught at the Summer Learning Institute and tutored K-8 students. I also use the summer to attend workshops, webinars and learning institutes to continue to better my practice.
How do you recharge? I enjoy just being home with my family, playing with my kids, relaxing with my husband, and reading a good book or two.
What’s most exciting about your professional life right now? Your personal life? Professionally I love seeing the district move forward with new curriculum and the redesign of the report card. It’s been exciting to have a first-hand role in designing, implementing, and providing professional development for staff in these areas. Personally: This past year has been an exciting year for my family. We watched as our new home was built, and then we moved in over the summer. Our kids are growing fast, so there is always something exciting going on, and seeing all three of our kiddos learn and develop new skills is always fun. I am really excited to have another one of my children join me at Dicken this year. My son Brennen is now in kindergarten and right across the hall from me.