Lori Moizio, Pattengill third grade teacher

Lori Moizio and her two siblings grew up in Oak Park, Michigan in a family of educators.  Her mother, father, step-mother and sister-in-law were all teachers and her dad taught at the high school she attended.  

After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Michigan, Moizio moved to Los Angeles where she worked in human resources for five years. Eager to live closer to family, she convinced her husband, Rich, to move back to Ann Arbor, where she then worked for the University of Michigan in human resources for another five years.

After having her second child, Moizio chose to take a break from the workforce so she could spend more time with her children.  While volunteering in her children’s elementary school, she caught the family teaching bug.  She decided to enroll at Eastern Michigan University and work towards a post baccalaureate degree in elementary education.  She then earned a master’s degree in reading from Marygrove College.  

She has been teaching at Pattengill now for 12 years—the first five as a Title I teacher. This is her seventh year teaching third grade.

University of Michigan graduate student Megan Lashbrook said she feels fortunate to be Moizio’s student teacher this year.

“Lori is such a fantastic mentor,” said Lashbrook. “She’s so supportive to learn from; she’s so kind to the students and to myself and I truly could not have a better placement.”

Two parents nominated Moizio for the recent AAPS Excellence in Virtual Instruction Award. Among their comments:

  • “She makes sure every student in the class is engaged. She constantly tries to ask the students about what they learned and what they think about the topic. Everyone in the class seems to be attentive and engaged.”
  • “Ms. Moizio is very approachable for questions/comments. She is conducting the Wednesday weekly touch base meeting, even though these meetings are NOT mandatory for students. She will be available for any queries from the student community, and she never missed any Wednesday meeting for her students.”
  • “She always reaches out to the families to ask if the family is satisfied with the quality of education provided to the student and if she can help the student in any way to improve more. I feel that makes her an outstanding teacher and person.”

Moizio met her husband, Rich, when they were students at U-M, and they have two sons, one of whom is a civil engineer in Portland, Oregon, while the other is a product manager in Plymouth.   Moizio is a huge animal and nature lover and has two cats, Nacho and Cocoa.  She loves to be outside, travel, hike, camp, bike ride and read.

What will you remember most about this past year as a teacher?

This was quite a challenging year for me and teachers in general.  During a regular school year, all students are physically in my classroom, and I am able to engage, teach and support them in many different ways.  This year, I had to think creatively so that I could teach and support my students.  I also worried about my students and their families because many were experiencing their own challenges.  One of the main things I focused on this year was social and emotional learning.  We spent a lot of time sharing, chatting, laughing, and creating as we built a strong virtual community.  One of the things I will remember most about this past year is how much I loved getting to know my students in their home environments.  I loved seeing their parents, their siblings, their pets, their rooms, their creations and the things they were proud of from home.  We spent a lot of time sharing our lives with each other.

How has the transition to hybrid learning been going for you and the students?

Overall, the transition to hybrid learning has gone very well.  I don’t know who was more excited to see the students in person!  Their smiles were priceless.  The first few days were a bit overwhelming trying to manage the technology necessary for both zoomies and roomies to learn effectively.  I also wanted to make sure that we remained a close knit community, even though some students were in school and some were still virtual. Ensuring that all students get what they need can be difficult in a hybrid environment, but it gets a little bit easier each day.

Describe an average workday.  

The average workday this year was quite different than in previous years. For the fall and winter semester, after I got dressed and ready for the day, I walked to my spare bedroom “classroom” and opened our Zoom classroom by 8:05.  We spent our day learning, and then I had daily office hours where students could come for help with their work.  Sometimes they would just come to visit, and I enjoyed that very much too.  After office hours were over, I usually took a break to relax or take a walk, and then it was time to prepare lessons for the following day.

What’s the happiest part of your day?

Morning Meeting is the happiest part of my day.  It’s the time when we sit down together as a class and share our thoughts, feelings and ideas.  It’s a safe space for us to share and get excited about our upcoming day of learning.

Favorite websites: 

My favorite websites to use with my students are Kahoot and GoNoodle.  I also follow a lot of educators and educational organizations on Twitter that inspire me in many ways.

What was always written on your report card in grade school?

I did very well in all subjects, but I talked too much with my friends!

What advice would you give to a first-year teacher?

Hang in there!  The job of a first year teacher is incredibly overwhelming in so many ways.  Don’t be too hard on yourself, and seek out other teachers as mentors.  Show the students you care about them, and the rest will fall into place.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

When I had my own children, I loved being their first teacher.  I also volunteered quite a bit at their elementary school.  As I volunteered, I realized how much I enjoyed interacting with students and seeing them get excited about learning.  I also love to learn, so I knew that I would have fun learning alongside my students every day.  

What’s the best compliment anyone could give you?

The biggest compliment would be that I inspired a love of learning in a student and that I made students feel safe and welcomed in our classroom.

What makes teaching at Pattengill unique?

Pattengill’s diversity is what makes it so unique. Our students come from so many different countries, cultures and backgrounds, and it adds a beautiful richness to our school.  We also have a very passionate and dedicated staff.

How do you keep students engaged?

Making learning relevant to students’ lives is the best way to keep them engaged.  Students want to know WHY they are learning what they are, and how it relates to their lives.  Therefore, I like to bring real world applications and experiences to their learning.  I also have a lot of energy and like to be playful with the students as we learn.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching?

Making connections with students is the most rewarding part of teaching for me.  Building a personal relationship with each child allows me to get to know who they are as a person, and not just as an academic student. Another rewarding part of teaching is when students start to see themselves as very capable readers, writers, scientists and mathematicians.

What do you wish everyone realized about the work of a teacher?

The work of a teacher never ends, and we think about our students all the time.  We are always reflecting, trying to find ways to meet all their needs, looking for different ways to connect with them, and developing creative ways to engage students with the curriculum. We never stop thinking about them, caring for them and wanting the best for them.  

How do you spend your summers?

I spend my summers resting, relaxing and recharging.  I love having extra time to spend with my family and friends.  I love to read, so I usually have a stack of books waiting for me.  I also love nature, so my husband and I are usually taking nature walks, hiking, biking, or traveling to state and national parks.

What’s most exciting about your professional life right now? Your personal life?

Professionally, I have really enjoyed learning about all the different ways to use technology to engage students in the virtual classroom.  Personally, I’m excited to take violin lessons since my husband bought me a violin for my birthday.

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