New teacher spotlight: Chrissy Belniak

Chrissy Belniak is an incoming fifth grade teacher at Meadow Glens Elementary school in District 203. | Submitted

Christina Belniak joins the Naperville community this year as an incoming fifth grade teacher at Meadow Glens Elementary.

Belniak, who comes to Meadow Glens after working as an instructional aid in an emotional and behavioral disorder classroom in Wheaton last year, expressed her excitement at joining the District 203 school in a Q&A with the Naperville Sun.

What brings you to the Naperville area?

Growing up in a nearby suburb, I have always been familiar with and loved the Naperville area. This year I was fortunate enough to be hired as a fifth grade teacher at Meadow Glens Elementary and I could not be more excited! Ever since I decided to pursue a career in education, I knew Naperville schools had such a strong reputation, and being able to begin my career at Meadow Glens is truly an amazing opportunity.

How did you get interested in teaching?

Although it sounds cliché, I have always wanted to teach. Becoming a teacher has always been an aspiration of mine, but my reasons for wanting to be one have truly evolved over time. Both my mom and dad have worked in the service industry for over 25 years; my dad being a doctor and my mom being a nurse. That being said, I always knew I wanted to be a contributor to society and make a difference in others’ lives. Working with children has always been a passion of mine, and I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. Teaching is such a special profession for so many reasons, and I feel privileged to provide my services to the Naperville community. Helping students reach their potential and witnessing their growth is truly invaluable.

Why did you choose to teach elementary school?

The enthusiasm and energy of elementary school children is absolutely contagious. These ages are vital in creating a foundation for what these children will one day become, and to say I played a positive role in contributing to their successes is priceless. Although it is usually portrayed that the students are doing the all the learning, as an educator, these children teach me something new every day as well. As an elementary school teacher, I am lucky enough to help my students learn and develop in ways that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

What is your favorite subject?

Math is definitely my favorite. I remember being in elementary school and so many of my peers not liking math, and being able to help them in ways they could understand was so fulfilling. Whether it is math, or any other subject, I love challenging myself to take content that may be difficult or “boring” to students, and bring various strategies and new perspectives to it in order to make all students feel self-sufficient and successful.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of teaching?

I played volleyball and basketball my whole life, so I still love being active, whether that’s exercising or just doing anything outdoors. I love spending time with my family and friends, going to the movies, cooking, and going out to eat (probably too much!). Going to my lake house in Wisconsin and boating is definitely one of my favorite things to do in the summer. Also, I really enjoy seeing new places. Last summer my family went to Alaska and it was beautiful.

What would you like your students to take away from your classroom?

I want my students to take away authentic learning experiences from my classroom each day – taking ideas and knowledge that they can apply to their own lives and the real world. I want my students to take with them a love of learning through not only their educational years, but throughout their lives as well. I want them to feel that while in my class, they had a purpose and a voice, and that their innovativeness, ideas and talents were constantly acknowledged individually. Last, I want my students to take away the ability to take risks and challenge themselves every day. I want them to realize that pushing ourselves to do things that may be a bit out of our comfort zone will only help us grow as learners and individuals.

What’s something new that you hope to bring to Meadow Glens?

Because I am new and coming from a different school with different experiences, I am hoping I can bring new, innovative ideas to my fifth grade team and to the school as a whole. I’ve always believed that the more minds, the better, and collaborating with others only enhances opportunities for everyone involved.

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