Herald Head of the Class 2021: Steven Anusiak, Seaford High School Life Skills

On helping students transition out of school.

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Seaford High School's Steven Anusiak talks about teaching life skills and helping students transition to the "real world."

Why did you become a teacher?

To help people with disabilities advocate for themselves and build independent futures. 

Tell us about a teacher that inspired you as a student. 

Mr. Kremelberg was of my favorites growing up in Seaford. He taught us multiplication but also chess. We learned to think outside of the box. It left a profound and memorable impression on me.   

What did you experience or learn about teaching—yourself, your students, the process, etc.—during the pandemic that you think you will carry forward? 

My students inspired me to adapt. My students adapt to life for "typically developing" people daily and adapted to life during the pandemic in a very similar way. They inspired me to learn new technologies and teach in very novel ways.   

What's the most memorable thing a student has said to you? 

I think any time I hear some piece of advice repeated back to me (days or weeks later) it is very moving to me. It is meaningful to me that I can help impact someone's life.  

What has been your toughest challenge as a teacher so far? 

My toughest challenge is helping families with the transition out of high school. The system is very difficult to navigate. 

What has been your proudest moment as a teacher so far? 

One of my former students getting and keeping a job made me extremely proud. This was an amazing achievement.   

What surprised you the most when you first started teaching? 

How comfortable I was speaking in front of students and staff members while teaching. I am a shy and quiet person outside of school.   

How do you keep students engaged and interested? 

I think I keep my students engaged by learning about their personal life. I purposefully craft lessons to relate to my students needs/desires/goals.   

What is an aspect of being a teacher that you think most people outside the profession don't know or fully understand? 

How students need to be explicitly taught executive functioning skills and how crucial these can be to success in later in life.   

What advice do you have for aspiring teachers? 

Appreciate what accomplishments of any size mean to each student individually.   

What is the most important thing you hope a student takes away from your class? 

My goal is teaching self-advocacy skills and building independence in that person's life.

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