Camelot Teacher Profile: Heather Marsala
Heather is in her first year as a math teacher at Chicago Excel Academy. Holding nearly a decade of teaching experience she proudly declares that teaching at a Camelot school is her favorite out of all the schools she’s been a part of. While she says she would love to teach anywhere, she is passionate about teaching in her hometown of Chicago where she can give back to the city that she grew up in.
Like many other teachers at Camelot schools, Heather says being able to customize her curriculum based on student’s needs, and the teamwork atmosphere that Excel Academy provides is what she enjoys the most. Heather wants her students to move forward and ultimately make a difference in this world, just as she is trying to do.
How would you compare your experience teaching at other schools versus a Camelot schools?
“Of my years in teaching this would be my favorite one, because I like the teamwork approach that we have here. I also like to be given the freedom to teach students what I think they need to know as oppose to having a district mandate that says I have to teach certain things. At Chicago Excel Academy we are given a lot of freedom to teach students the things that they need to know and I’m able to give them a lot of life skills.”
What is the biggest take-away from your class?
“The biggest takeaways from my class are the life skills. The current life skill we are working on in algebra is money management. We are talking about how sales receipts are calculated, how to balance a checkbook, creating a budget and determining your money attitude. In geometry we will be getting into how to find the amount of carpet and tile you need for a house by using area and perimeter. I’m trying to teach them how geometry and algebra connect to the real world and I’m able to do that much better in this setting than I would in a regular high school and I think that’s excellent. “
How do the Camelot norms contribute to student success?
“A Chicago Excel Academy student is always a lady and a gentleman: that’s my favorite of all the norms we have. It tells them that they are expected to act their age and treat everyone with respect.They are given the norms before they begin at Camelot. Having the norms in place does a great job of cutting down on behavioral issues. We know that students will still be kids, but the norms do a great job of cutting down on the drama that would occur at a regular public school.”
How would you say your students describe you?
“My students would describe me as someone who is genuine and someone who is fair, someone who will go the extra mile to help them understand the topic that they don’t understand.”
What do you enjoy the most about teaching at a Camelot school?
“The motto: teamwork makes the dream work. Everyone is pulling on the rope so it never feels like a tug-of-war battle. Everyone is trying to help everyone else get better; we are all working together so we can reach the ultimate goal, which is getting these students a diploma so they can better their life.”
What goal and expectation do you have for students?
“My hope is that every single student will leave here and be able to contribute to society, and go to college or the military or a trade school and do whatever it is that they are passionate about. My goal is for them to not be a wallflower in this world, but for them to make a difference just as I’m trying to do myself.”