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Ryemarkable Kerri Winderman

Tell us about yourself. Your work?

I moved to Rye from NYC with my husband, Michael in 2003, after teaching here for a year. Our son was born and raised in Rye and is currently a sophomore at Rye High School. I have either worked or been a parent at every building in Rye and I think that gives me a unique perspective on the district and a deep appreciation for all of the schools.

I began teaching in Rye in 2002 at Osborn. Since 2009, I have been a staff developer in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, first at Milton and currently, district-wide as the K-5 Elementary Math Staff Developer. I really enjoy working with teachers and offering professional development to support their instructional practices in math. I also love doing lessons for students. People often think of math as very straightforward and procedural, with a clear-cut answer. But what I love about math is that it provides opportunities to teach critical-thinking, problem-solving, and reasoning--skills that transcend the math classroom.

How has the virus impacted your work?

Nearly a year ago, the staff developers were asked to clear their calendars and head to the district office to work on a plan for a dystopian-like scenario, which they were calling “remote learning.” I was totally incredulous and figured we’d be back in no time. Seems crazy that it’s been that long. In March 2020 , I started posting a math riddle of the week as a fun way to connect with the students and families. When I was nearing week 12 in June, I thought, “This has to end soon because I’m running out of material!” We have really had to shift our instructional practices because so much of our math lessons revolve around group and partner work and shared hands-on materials.

If you told me a year ago that I would learn to teach math virtually, presenting and writing on one screen, while interacting with the students on another screen, I certainly wouldn’t have believed you. I’ve shifted my work to create instructional videos, teach lessons remotely, create and find resources to support asynchronous learning, and offer professional development remotely. It’s hard to truly explain how hard teachers are working and anything I can do to support teachers and students continues to drive me.

Did you receive the vaccine? When? Any thoughts about it?

Yes, I was an early recipient and I am incredibly grateful! I received my second dose in early February and immediately felt a little lighter. In time, I’d like to believe the vaccine will allow students and teachers to get back to the work we love doing in the way we know best.

What are you learning in this journey?

I am by nature, admittedly, a bit of a control freak. I like things to be organized and routine. So, in our current world in which life is pretty unpredictable, I was certainly uncomfortable. I’ve been forced to accept that things are just not always going to go according to plan. The positive takeaway is that sometimes when we are forced out of our comfort zone, we grow in ways we couldn’t have predicted.

How has the Rye community supported your journey?

I would be lying if I didn’t say that living and working in the same town can be a balancing act. When school districts make decisions, it’s impossible to please everyone because education is not one size fits all. Yet, I have been lucky to feel the overwhelming love and support from so many Rye families. I still keep in touch with many former students’ families and I love that connection. My last class of students, prior to becoming a staff developer, is about to graduate college!!

I laugh when younger students point me out to their parents and I overhear an “I know her! She’s the math lady!” It brings me joy when people reach out to say their family loves a math game or resource that I’ve recommended. And this year, so many people have recognized the hard work of all teachers and that support has definitely been most appreciated.

Your favorite things about Rye?

It may be cliche, but my favorite thing about Rye, by far, is living close to the LI Sound. I’ve always said that living near the water is good for the soul. Long walks have been my lifeline throughout the past year. I am also so fortunate to live on a great street with neighbors who are among my closest friends, which you sure appreciate even more in a pandemic.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Every year there are at least a few kindergartners who mistakenly call me Mrs. Wonder Woman instead of Mrs. Winderman. Admittedly, neither the teacher nor I correct them. If teaching math is my superpower, I’ll take it!


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