Teachers & Leaders
IDEA Teacher Spotlight: Margaret Summer
Margaret Summer is currently an English Language Arts Pre-Advanced Placement teacher at IDEA Rundberg College Preparatory. After spending the last four years teaching, she is well on her way to achieving her goal of leading her own school one day.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Margaret found her way to Austin after spending some time teaching with Teach For America. Her passion for education has been embedded in her for as long as she can remember; she can even recall receiving textbooks and an overhead projector for Christmas gifts as a young child.
Read on to learn more about Margaret’s role in motivating her students to get to and through college.
How long have you been teaching?
A: I have been teaching for 4 years now. However, I have done several student teaching internships and have wanted to teach my entire life. When I was in the 4th grade, unlike most students my age, I got an overhead projector and used textbooks for Christmas so my classroom of stuffed animals could be more legit.
Was ELA your favorite subject while in school? / Did you always know you wanted to teach this subject?
A: English has always been my favorite subject because I love the fact that you get to explore who you are as an individual through reading and writing. I always felt like my English teachers and classmates knew each other at such a deeper level since a great English teacher pushes students to become vulnerable.
How did your professional journey lead you to IDEA?
A: I started my teaching career in public education and wanted to move to a charter school to see the difference. This biggest differences I was looking for was to be developed and to work on a team where I felt 100% of staff members truly did love and believe in ALL students.
There is a lot of prep for STAAR testing – what goes into making your students confident they can master all exams?
A: I honestly believe that all my students are ready for STAAR and can pass their exams, but for so many of them it is a mental thing. As a teacher I think it is important to pump students up in their abilities daily--giving them high fives, motivational pep talks, stickers, hand-written notes, personal conversations, etc. You have to feel out the student and figure out what will ignite that belief in them that they CAN do it. Additionally, my students track their progress to their growth goal daily, and this is extremely concrete proof that they are either already meeting their goal or on track to meeting their goals every day.
What is your proudest moment as an IDEA teacher?
A: I don’t know if this is an individual moment, but during the second semester I started holding writing conferences with my students. It was so much fun meeting with students twice a week and giving them feedback on their writing. On our final day of conferencing 100% of students met their writing goal or surpassed it. Students were also able to reflect on their first piece of writing in my class to their last piece and so many students got emotional, and so did I, seeing their growth.
What are your long term goals?
A: My long term goal is to lead my own campus one day.
What makes you get up every morning to teach?
A: My homeroom class. They are some of my favorites (even though we don’t have those) and I am blessed to get to spend extra time with them. They come in every morning with a smile on their face, a fun story to tell, and ready to work hard. They are awesome!
Who has been your support system during your journey with IDEA?
A: Someone who has been super influential in my IDEA experience is my manager Mera Dougherty. She truly is committed to making sure I hit all my long-term goals and gave me every professional development opportunity possible. Additionally, she really empowers her teachers to own what is going on in their classroom. Finally, I have never had someone push my thinking on what is best for students and teachers more than she has. I have grown so much as a teacher and leader from her. If I end up being a rock star like her when I grow up, life will be great.