Teacher Interview Bios

Another Teacher’s Story

These classroom teachers volunteered to share their stories for this book. I made an effort to represent a variety of grade levels, years of experience, and subject areas. The description here reflects the information at the time of the interview. Each teacher brings their unique voice and perspective to the featured Lesson. All, but one, of the teachers were new to me and I enjoyed hearing their stories and how their love of teaching continues.

Lesson 1 – Follow your heart.


Kathleen Pimental

My Unexpected Journey Into Teaching

Kathy is a fourth grade teacher in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She wasa a para-professional and never planned to become a teacher, but when both the principal and her classroom teacher suggested she enter a certification program, she decided to try it.  She has been teaching for 7 years and her family teases her because she is the only person they know that rushes to get to work!

Listen to Kathleen Pimental's podcast episode here

Lesson 2 – Bloom where you’re planted.


Tammi Penman

I Don’t Want To Move!

Tammi is currently a 5th grade special education teacher at the middle school in Warren, Ohio. Even though she didn’t want to move at first, she found she loved the middle school students and she stayed for 36 years. She also loves that her husband teaches at the school and she can car pool. Tammi is still blooming!

Listen to Tammi Penman's podcast episode here

Lesson 3- Be a lamp, not a mirror


Angela Barnes

I Didn’t Know, What I Didn’t Know

Angela is an 3rd grade teacher in Cumming, Georgia. She began her career as a student teacher in Louisiana and also taught in Mississippi. She appreciates all she has learned in her 9 years of teaching and loves to try new things in her classroom. At her current school she is being encouraged by her principal to take on more leadership roles and she loves it! Her principal is featured in the Inspiring Leaders podcast episode 4.

Listen to Angela Barnes's podcast episode here

Lesson 4- Face the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.


Jimmy Knuuttila

I Choose to Teach Again

Jimmy is in his tenth year of teaching and is still choosing it as his profession. Jimmy is featured as an intern in the Teachers Make A Difference video available on the MentoringinAction.com website. Even though he has had several challenges in finding the right fit for his skills, he has never given up on his dream to be a teacher. He is currently teaching secondary math in

Silver Spring, Maryland and loving this school and his students.

Listen to Jimmy Knuuttila's podcast episode here

Lesson 5- Be a ripple


Jayla Watje

Every Teacher is a Teacher of Reading.

Jayla has been teaching for 15 years in several locations across the United States. What she has learned from all of her experience is that literacy is the key to student success and every teacher is a teacher of reading. She is currently an instructional coach in Tacoma, Washington where she enjoys rippling out ideas. Her interest in helping other teachers comes from her deep dedication to students.

Listen to Jayla Watje's podcast episode here

Lesson 6 – It is what it is


Marina Vacanti

I’ll Do What It Takes To Teach

Marina began her teaching career in Florida where she was recruited to teach primary students at a school that needed teachers. She learned how to teach by teaching and discovered she had a natural ability for engaging her students. Her family moved and she is currently completing the requirements for elementary certification in New Jersey. Her goal is to teach 2nd grade because she absolutely loves teaching and she will do what it takes to have her own classroom.

Listen to Marina Vacanti's podcast episode here

Lesson 7 – Be the wave


Hydie Pettinger

I Will Survive!

Hydie has been teaching at an elementary school in Miami, Florida for 15 years. She came to teaching after she had three children and had been in the business world. Even though she has faced challenges, she has always kept her students at the heart of her work. Her energy and vitality make her classroom an engaging place to learn.

Listen to Hydie Pettinger's podcast episode here

Lesson 8 – Always be brave


Takeru “TK” Nagayoshi

Teachers Voices Matter

“TK”  has been teaching for 7 years and is currently teaching English at New Bedford High School in Massachusetts. He participates on a wide variety of committees and received the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year award for his dedication to his students.

Listen to Takeru "TK" Nagayoshi's podcast episode here

Lesson 9 – Dream out loud


Gerard Haskins

I Want To Give Back

Gerard began his career in law, but felt the pull of teaching when he saw a sign for a city fellowship in the subway. He currently teaches special education in the South Bronx, NYC. He has been teaching for 10 years and followed in his father’s footsteps into special education.

Listen to Gerard Haskins's podcast episode here

Lesson 10 – Pay it forward


Megan Sobol-Flowers

Mentoring Matters!

Megan Has been teaching and mentoring in the Washington County Maryland Public School District for 9 years.  She completed the Mentoring in Action online mentor training course and learned how to lead a purposeful mentoring program. She chose to be a mentor leader for her district because she knows mentoring matters!

Listen to Megan Sobol Flowers's podcast episode here