Working with young children wasn’t Logan Lizak’s aspiration but through his selfless mentality, it has become his home.
Lizak earned his degree in English and his long-term goal was to be a college professor. While substitute teaching with middle school students at Reach Charter Academy, he realized he wasn’t suited for that grade level.
Fortunately, there was a paraprofessional opening, and soon, Lizak found his poise made him a great fit for teaching young scholars.
“It's just fun to see them grow, see how they start the year and where they end up and getting to know them,” he said. “You have empathy in so many other areas of your life and I realized I had the patience for it. It’s necessary in this job, and they just matched up with the kind of person I am.”
Lizak taught kindergarten last year, covering for one teacher on maternity leave at the beginning of the year and another at the end of the year because of a lack of substitute teachers. He went wherever he was needed, filling in during COVID-related staffing issues, was flexible if he was needed to cover lunch, and helped with progress monitoring. This school year, he is an at-risk first-grade teacher, allowing him to work with the same group of students from last year’s kindergarteners.
“One of the teachers I worked with for my years as a para. I knew the team pretty well, and that's just something I like doing, jumping in and helping however I can – that's kind of how I started,” he said. I didn't even intend to be a kindergarten teacher. It's just something that I said ‘yes’ to. That’s what gives me the most gratification – helping. If I can help my colleagues and help the kids, win-win.”
Lizak said he is able to connect with younger children by being compassionate and listening as opposed to simply unloading information on them.
“They see through it, especially when you’re with them every day,” he said. “They’ll notice that’s not who you are. They know that and they're smarter than sometimes we give them credit for. I try to acknowledge that.
“A lot of people have a tendency to talk down to them because they are little kids. I try to be just as respectful as I can of the things that they do know because that's the stuff they get excited about. You can really see them grow when they’re excited about what they're doing. That's probably more in my style than being direct and forcing them to do stuff. I just try to have a nice classroom culture where everyone's encouraging and listening to each other.”
One of Lizak’s most rewarding memories at Reach was the simple act of checking in on a student in another classroom who was having social issues. Over time, the student would say hi in the hallway, shared his interest in globes, and formed a bond outside the classroom.
“The more I talked to him, he opened up,” he said. “Because you have 26 kids or whatever, you don't always get to see that side of kids.”
Keep up the excellent work, Mr. Lizak!
About Reach Charter Academy:
Reach Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Roseville, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
Reach Teacher Helps Out Wherever He Is Needed
Published: Sep 16, 2022NHA Communications Team
NHA Communications Team
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