Author: Jenna Jeffrey
Published: Monday, 10 May 2021
Junior Achievement and MEMIC recognize educators as role models and mentors who help empower, motivate, and prepare students to envision their future and ignite a passion for continuous learning. The "Extraordinary Educators" campaign will take a closer look at Maine educators, their stories, their commitment to serving Maine’s youth, and the impact they have on their students.
Take a look at our Q&A with Mary Ridge, Gorham Middle School!
What made you want to become a teacher?
I knew I liked working with children based on life experiences ranging from tutoring back in grade school to my internships and volunteer work at Maine Med Pediatrics, the Juvenile Aid Bureau, Rec Dept., Coaching, and Casco Bay Movers Dance Studio. I love encouraging, nurturing, guiding, and dedicating myself to helping shape my students into the best possible version of themselves. As a role model, I am able to share my sense of humor (my dumb jokes), enthusiasm and passion while enjoying their spirit, creativity, and unpredictability. It is challenging and rewarding.
Do you have a favorite memory as a teacher?
I have been blessed with many fond memories. One that comes to mind would be a recent visit from a student I had the pleasure of working with in seventh grade. As his advisor at the first parent teacher conference, I recall my efforts to convince him to hang in there with one of his subjects as opposed to trying to switch teams. Thankfully, I managed to boost his morale and convince both mother and son to trust me. His senior year, he paid me a thrilling and unexpected visit and shared how grateful he was for that year we spent together. I was quite moved when he took out his graduation cap and phone while thanking me for my inspiration and belief in his abilities to succeed. He asked that a picture be taken of us and finished by sharing how our economics studies also motivated his decision regarding career choices. This will remain a special lifetime moment/memory for my teaching career.
Why do you choose to bring JA to your students?
First and foremost, I was never afforded with such an opportunity and feel it is a vital component of the educational journey. The overall experience provides a way to connect students with interesting community volunteers who share important life skills /experiences while team teaching. Topics such as financial literacy and career related choices encourage students to consider ways of becoming positive members/contributors. The networking also enables me to blend a futuristic society project I have them explore and design.
Do you have a favorite JA moment in your classroom?
Aside from my fam/volunteers who are instrumental to the successful implementation of our program....one of my all time favorite moments would have to be the initial Launchpad competition. The creativity, collaboration, and teaming combined with perseverance, humor, and innovation resulted in an experience that was the ultimate in being rewarding and enjoyable. The overall pride and satisfaction felt thanks to the team's dedication will forever be engraved on my Fine Memory Board. And to think it happened on my birthday makes it even more precious.
What do you hope your students take away from their time with you?
I hope they realize how proud I am of all the effort they pour into achieving their Personal Best. I want them to be able to laugh and enjoy life, and feel confident in their abilities to explore, cope, and appreciate. And I want them to realize the positive impact they made on me as their teacher and cheerleader.
Thank you Mary for all you do for Maine students!
Follow the Extraordinary Educators campaign on JA's social media platforms as we highlight Maine educators, their stories, their commitment to serving Maine’s youth, and the impact they have on their students.