Taryn Mullahy has been a fourth grade teacher at Blue Creek Elementary School in the North Colonie Central School District since 2019. The Siena College and College of Saint Rose graduate lives in Albany with her two adorable pups.
Q: How are the students dealing with COVID-19 and how is it impacting their education?
A: The students are dealing incredibly well with the pandemic. Last spring, we were so concerned about how the pandemic would affect their mental health but returning in the fall reminded me of just how resilient children are. Being that positivity is also contagious, the kids walk in with smiling eyes every day. They also seem more grateful to be in the classroom than I have ever seen in my 10 years of teaching. I always tell them they could all write a bestseller someday about this experience.
Q: How difficult has it been for a teacher to continue the mission through COVID and how have you adapted?
A: Part of being an effective teacher is adapting to the needs of your students. COVID has not changed what my students need from me. They still need to feel safe, loved, and supported. They need to feel motivated and inspired. The social-emotional needs of my students are at the forefront of mind; they still need opportunities to safely collaborate, share ideas, and just be kids. I have found ways to make this possible through technology.
Q: What got you interested in teaching and is there a favorite subject you like to teach and why?
A: My father was an amazing educator at my elementary school and his students always looked so proud to be walking with him. I wanted to have that impact. This year, I’m really enjoying teaching fourth grade math because I have so many songs to help the kids! Of course, being fourth grade, they initially pretend they don’t like the songs but you will most certainly hear them humming it at dismissal or typing, “I have that division song stuck in my head,” in my Zoom chat.
Q: What is the one thing you would like students to take away from your class and why?
A: I think as silly as it seems, they will take away a closeness like no other class. This experience is bonding these children. They are really in it together. It is so impressive to me the way these students are finding ways to help each other while staying six feet apart or even through Zoom. They walk each other through technology issues right in the middle of a Zoom meeting with patience and zero judgment of one another because they have all been there.
Q: You majored in English Language at Siena, who is your favorite author and why?
A: I started my teaching career in kindergarten for six years and it gave me a great appreciation for children’s book authors. My favorite author and illustrator is Mo Willems. He got me through many kindergarten days by helping me teach empathy and kindness as well as bringing laughter and joy. One of my fourth graders last year made an illustration of Mo Willems’ most well-known characters, Elephant and Piggie, and it made me realize that those books stick with these children. They remember the lessons alongside the humor. And that’s what we need to remember as educators.
If you know someone you would like to see featured in Five Questions contact Jim Franco at [email protected] or 518-878-1000.