New Language Arts Teachers Spotlight

Nadine Haddad, Director of Social Media; Staff Writer

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This year, Milton welcomed four new Language Arts teachers to their staff: Jordan Kohanim, Kari Matteson, Paige Jacobson and Alexa Schaefer. These teachers kindly agreed to familiarize themselves with students and parents by answering a few questions about their personal lives, passion and philosophy on their careers. 

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Kari Matteson:

“This is my 18th year teaching. I’ve taught at a lot of different schools; I was in Cobb County for a long time, and I actually started in a private school — an outdoor therapeutic program for male adolescents. 

My passion for teaching mainly stems from my interest in reading and writing. I eventually decided that I would like to use my skills in those subjects to help students be successful. 

The curriculum here is not too different from the other schools that I’ve taught at. The way we deliver material here and some of the assessing is a little bit different, but for the most part, it is the same.

 I’ve met a lot of special students, and I’m still in touch with them. I’m friends with a lot of them on social media, so now I’m seeing them getting married and having children. Several of them are now teachers, and I just love that. I’ve also got some students that are on TV or on Broadway.

My favorite part about teaching Language Arts is instilling a love for reading in my students because, at least in my years past, a lot of my students were not big readers. I like the path in discovering something that they’ll enjoy so that they will pick more and love more. A good reader is a good writer, and a good writer can express him or herself as well as have an opinion and presence in the world.”

Alexa Schaefer:

“I love working with people, and I also love reading and writing. Reading and writing is a field in which one is usually on his or her own, and that did not appeal to me as much because I wanted to work with people, serve my community and explore stories and creativity. Teaching merged all those for me.

Along with reading and writing, I really enjoy watching soccer and traveling. I also like to spend time with my friends — I actually went with a lot of them to the Roswell Game last Friday. I really enjoy being involved in my church (the Saint Thomas) and its Life Teen Program. 

I believe very strongly in the power of stories and relating to them … not necessarily just analyzing them, but seeing yourself in them so you can change your perspective and help understand yourself a little better.”

Jordan Kohanim:

“I’ve been teaching for thirteen years. Everyone in my family was a teacher, going back four generations. When I went into college, a teacher was the last thing I wanted to be. I transferred to Kennesaw to help take care of my brother. There, I took a class on Frankenstein (where I met my husband), and since it was a difficult class, we formed a study group which ended up being me teaching them. I really liked it, and at that point in time I admitted to myself that teaching is what I wanted to do.

I taught at Northview, which is the top performing school in the state. We call it the ‘pressure cooker,’ in which it is amazing in producing what it produces; however, it also creates a lot of mental health issues (which Northview is working on). One of the reasons I came to Milton is to get balance in myself and see more balance in the kids. I’ve been teaching long enough to have been to some kids’ weddings and baptisms. I’ve also lost some kids to suicide and car accidents and attended some funerals.

I’m a big artsy person, and I enjoy painting. I’m not really good at it, but I think that if it’s something you enjoy — no matter how good you are at it — you should try. Also, I run and work out a lot because I have really high anxiety. In order for me to function, I have to run three or four miles a day (for more info, visit kohanimweb.com).

My mantra is, ‘I teach kids, not curriculum.’ It is about relationships. I know every single person in my class is not going to be an English teacher, and they should not be. They should grow up to be whatever it is they are supposed to be, as long as they get the skills that they need in order to be successful. The moments of triumphs for a kid and seeing them have faith for themselves is the most important thing about teaching.”

Paige Jacobson: 

“I worked last year at Alpharetta and was a student teacher in Cobb County. I kind of got to teaching in a roundabout sort of way. I went into horticultural therapy in a nonprofit organization, which was super fun and I loved it. Just from that experience I taught people about gardening, plants and things related to mental illness. There I realized that I really love teaching people and helping them learn new things.

I was also a camp counselor, babysitter and tutor, which contributed to my inspiration in becoming a teacher. As much as I loved horticultural therapy, it was a part-time job in Atlanta and quite a drive, so I pushed myself towards getting a full-time job. I went into English because I love literature and exploring different worlds and aspects of life. 

When I have free time, I enjoy playing trivia, video games, and doing anything related to nature — gardening, hiking, or just being outside. I also like hanging out with my husband and my friends.

The most important part about teaching is being real and authentic, and I believe that it is valuable to share that with students so they can understand through your passion in the subject. For me, I want my students to understand that the content of Language Arts is meaningful and important, and my goal is to see that they can use the skills they learn here outside of this class.”

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Interested in learning more about our new Language Arts teachers? You can find any of them in the 2300 hallway, so go ahead and introduce yourself!

Created by Nadine Haddad