Years Teaching: 3 years
Hobbies/Interests: Eating. Spending time with family, friends, and loved ones. Watching sports with my cat, Casper. Going on adventures and travels with my love, Vanessa Horstman
What do you enjoy most about teaching? Building relationships with students and seeing them succeed in academic and non-academic pursuits.
What do you find most challenging about teaching? The daily emotional drainage. Being in a profession that non-educators have political influence over. Teaching in a building with only two administrators when all of the other middle schools have three administrators.
Best tip for new teachers: Relationships.Relationships.Relationships
Best tip for career teachers: Remember that we are in a profession to do what is best for kids.
Favorite piece of advice for students: Smart never goes out of style.
What being a Gold Star Teacher means to you: It means an opportunity to say thanks to all of those who have helped me along the way. To my Reyes, Benitez, and Chatman family. Mi amor Vanessa, her family, and my friends and the parents of my friends. Thank you to my coaches: Coach Jacob Mueller, Ryan Castle, Ben Nietzel, Jose Varela, Aaron Turner, Ricky Leza and the rest of the Muscatine Muskie football and soccer coaches. The Mussehl family for giving me a job at the gas station to help pay for college. Muscatine Community College and Dr. Dave Carson, my academic advisor. To the University of Northern Iowa, the educational leadership program, and Dr. Becky Hawbaker. Thank you to the community of Louisa-Muscatine for making me feel like family and for giving me the support I needed during my first year of teaching. Thank you to Dr. Rachel Savage, Francisco Pepin, and the staff of Bunger Middle School. To my 8th grade team: Justin, Shelley, Matthew, Montana, Candyce, Andrea, Kim, Abby, and Alyssa. Another special thank you to the Hubbard brothers, John and Paul. Thanks to Britt Jungck, Claude Matthews, DeMarius Walton, Jenny Paulsen, Jeremy Jones, and Eric Rosburg. To the teachers who made impacts on me: Mr. Adam Wiley, Mrs. Heather France, and Mrs. Karissa Anderson. To the teacher who influenced me and others to become teachers to spread her love and wisdom, Mrs. Laurel Molen McCreary. May you continue to guide us and make fun of us when we struggle with teaching from above– I miss you so much. To my students, you all have made each day unique and meaningful. I have learned so much from you all and every single day is different. This could not have happened without you all.
Watch Rafael Benitez’s Gold Star Video here!