Amanda Wood is a Young 5’s through second grade teacher at Logan Elementary. This is her ninth year teaching and eighth year at Logan. Wood grew up in Livonia with her parents Dave and Darlene and her older brother Nick. Both of her parents work in the insurance business. She attended Coolidge Elementary, Riley Middle School, and graduated from Franklin High School. During elementary school, she was busy traveling with her family, spending time on the family boat, in dance class, or playing soccer.
Wood has always had a passion for teaching. As a young girl, she would often be found playing school. When she was in high school and middle school, Wood began babysitting and working at an after-school child care center where her passion for teaching continued to grow. During her senior year in high school, she had an opportunity to work at a private school that specialized in teaching individuals with autism. This is where her passion to teach individuals with special needs began.
Wood started her college career attending Oakland Community College and then transferred to Eastern Michigan University where she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a K-12 Cognitive Impairment Endorsement.
Shortly after she graduated with her undergrad degree, she went back to received her master’s degree in autism spectrum disorder. Throughout college, she worked tutoring individuals with autism using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Amanda started her teaching career in Garden City at the Burger School for Students with Autism. She worked there for a year and then was hired at Logan.
Wood loves to travel, cook, exercise, and spend time with her family and friends. Amanda currently lives in Superior Township with her fiancé Dan and their cat Dewey. The couple will marry this May.
What is a CI classroom, and what does an average day look like?
A self-contained Cognitive Impairment classroom is a multi-grade classroom that supports students with a disability that impacts their ability to access the general education curriculum without significant support. I have four amazing teaching assistants MaryBeth Grisdale, Mercy Valdivieso, Gunesha Frederick, and Vicki Kimball that help support our students throughout the day. Our day is very busy! Students start their day completing their morning routines and then they head off to morning meetings with their general education classes. After that, we have centers where students will work by themselves, with teaching assistants, or a service provider (Speech, OT, Social Work, and Physical Therapy) on grade-level curriculum and individualized students’ IEP (Individualized Education Program) goals.
We then attend a special; music, physical education, art, or library. Next, we hold our classroom meeting and calendar time. With lunch and recess to follow. After lunch/recess we have quiet reading time and then have a movement break before our next center routine. We typically have another special in the afternoon, recess, and an English language arts or math group once a week. At the end of our day, we have our snack with a story and then complete our afternoon pack-up routines.
When you recall your first year of teaching, what memories stand out?
Some of my favorite memories of my first-year teaching were the bond I formed with my students and all the lessons I learned that helped shape me into the teacher I am today. That year will always hold a special place in my heart.
What advice would you give to a first-year teacher?
Take time to eat lunch without working. Connect with some of your colleagues during this time. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
Early on I knew I had a special bond with children. Through my experiences babysitting, working in daycares, and tutoring children with autism. I have also wanted to make a difference in their lives.
In your eight years at AAPS, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about teaching? About learning?
The most important thing I have learned about teaching is that it is ever-changing and as a teacher, I am a lifelong learner.
What’s the happiest part of your day?
Interacting with my students and seeing them accomplish their goals.
Describe your perfect meal. Who would be at the table, where would you be, and what would you be eating?
My perfect meal would be at my house with my fiancé Dan eating all of my favorite junk food including Taco Bell, chicken finger salad with ranch, pizza, and lots and lots of sichriacha.
I use Seesaw a lot in my classroom and my students love using Epic Books.
Apps you can’t live without:
Google maps and Waze.
What makes teaching at Logan unique?
Logan has a very unique community and I love that there are students from all over the world. In our lunchroom, we have an amazing display of flags that represent the countries students are from.
How do you keep students engaged?
Keeping my students engaged is a little different than your typical student. Building connections and using student interests help me facilitate learning. In addition, it’s important for me to monitor their sensory needs to help regulate them into a state of learning.
What is the most rewarding part of teaching?
The most rewarding part of teaching is seeing all the progress your students make throughout the school year.
What do you wish everyone realized about the work of a teacher?
That teachers work really hard. We are not only teachers but we play many other roles inside the classroom. Our roles change daily depending on the needs of our children.
How do you spend your summers?
In the summer I love to be outside in the sunshine. My fiancé and I go up north a lot, we love to boat, travel, and spend time with family. I also like to tackle some home projects and always take the time to do some organizing.
What’s most exciting about your professional life right now? Your personal life?
I joined the Curriculum Instruction Specialist (CIS) team last year and it pushed me out of my comfort zone. It’s been a good opportunity for me to continue learning and growing as a professional.
This is a very exciting time for me personally. I got engaged in August 2020 and we are finally less than 100 days until I get married to my fiancé Dan Kozlowski.