Kristin Wolfgang: Studies Weekly Spotlight

Growing up, Kristin Wolfgang didn’t dream of being a teacher. But now she doesn’t dream of any other career.

Kristin WolfgangBefore heading into the classroom, Wolfgang worked at Borders Bookstore. She heard about a part-time Kindergarten teacher position and tried it out. Her fellow teachers asked her to lead small groups in reading.

“And I was hooked,” she said in an interview with Studies Weekly.

Wolfgang has been teaching for 19 years, and feels it’s not a job, but her calling. She is currently a 5th/6th grade teacher at The Volcano School of Arts and Sciences on the Big Island of Hawaii, but also taught in Austin, Texas.

“I love teaching. I love developing personal relationships with kids and showing them that they can do better. A colleague recently told me that she sees that I accept kids where they are and give them space and confidence to improve,” she said.

That brings her joy as an educator, as well as “creating curriculum, integrating technology and introducing kids to books!”

Studies Weekly Spotlight
Kristin Wolfgang’s students work with Studies Weekly.

Of course, even after almost two decades of teaching, she still finds the career challenging. Similar to how other teachers feel, sometimes she stresses about organizing all that is asked of her.

“There are so many things we are asked to do besides just providing instruction and assessment of students. I’m always struggling to collect and report data as well as to revise and maintain my curriculum maps,” she said. “I know that one thing that causes teachers to leave the field is the difficulty of prioritizing our tasks.”

Despite this, she still loves what she does day in and out. One of the things that helps her run her classroom smoothly is Studies Weekly.

“I love Studies Weekly. The articles are engaging and rigorous, and my struggling readers can read along with the articles online. I am also able to integrate reading standards into my Social Studies lessons by using suggestions from the Teaching Supplements. Having the newspapers for the entire year helps me to stay on pace in presenting the social studies curriculum,” she said.

Wolfgang first encountered Studies Weekly after moving from Hawaii to Texas. She used various Texas grade levels there, and ordered the USA publications after moving back to Hawaii two years ago.

Studies Weekly Spotlight
Kristin Wolfgang’s students make cuneiform letters in air drying clay.

She enjoys Studies Weekly so much, in fact, that she also writes 5th and 6th grade curriculum for us. She started writing just one question at a time in 2015, and now she’s working on Teacher Supplements. She was also on the team that recently wrote the Studies Weekly K-2 leveled readers.

Wolfgang juggles a lot, but all of what she does is for the betterment of students. Texas and Hawaii may be vastly different in geography, she says, but for her, it’s all about the kids.

“Kids are kids no matter where you go. I love being with them and helping them learn,” she said.

To learn how you can use Studies Weekly Social Studies in your classroom visit studiesweekly.com.

Reginald Wright: Studies Weekly Spotlight

Reginald Wright took an indirect route to teaching — but it was one that led him to a career he loves.

Reginald Wright
Reginald Wright

“Every day is a new day,” Wright said in a recent interview with Studies Weekly.

Wright works as an instructional coach for 6th through 8th graders at Aldine Middle School in Houston, Texas.

“Even if they don’t learn all the causes of the Civil War, at least they saw an African American man who is youngish and educated and loves his job, and loves them,” he added, explaining that often this example is not what his students experience at home.

“I am what they can be.”

Wright has been an educator for nine years now, but it wasn’t his first job out of college.

As a senior in high school, he dreamed of being a teacher. He was a member of the Texas Association of Future Educators and enjoyed tutoring at the nearby elementary. But as he headed into college and majored in political science, he got nervous about teaching as a career.

Instead, he graduated and went to work in the local attorney general’s office. It was depressing work, he says, and after a time he moved on and became an insurance adjuster. In that field he enjoyed the freedom of being his own boss. But again, he didn’t feel fulfilled. He got to the point where he dreaded going to work.

“There wasn’t any joy in it. It wasn’t fun. At the end of the day, it was just a job. And I wanted to be more than just successful, I wanted to be significant,” he said.

He recalled his high school days with TAFE, remembering the fun and fulfillment he felt then. So, he pursued a teaching license.

“When I decided to give teaching a try, it was the best decision I’ve made in my life. I love fostering a love for social studies and helping my students fall in love with it like I did,” Wright said.

He says he loves what he does every day.

A student in Mr. Wright’s class works on a project.

But as any teacher knows, there are many challenges. Wright’s biggest struggle and passion is to get his students to see the potential they have. He can see it, but they cannot.

“A large portion of our students have not been inspired to dream, to imagine they can do great things in the future,” Wright said.

At the start of the school year, some of the students he serves do not read on the middle school grade level, which makes it difficult for them to understand the middle school social studies curriculum. To get them to this deeper level of learning, Wright and his fellow teachers heavily utilize scaffolding techniques.

“Before you can teach them how to analyze a political cartoon, you have to tell them what ‘analyze’ even means,” he explained.

Students work on Social Studies at Aldine Middle School.

To help his students understand these deeper concepts, at a reading level they can comprehend, he uses elementary-level Studies Weekly Social Studies publications. The students learn, analyze and process the historical information while also gaining valuable reading, literacy and vocabulary skills. Wright has been using Studies Weekly for about five years, and loves that it is aligned to Texas’ state standards.

“When I first saw Studies Weekly, I thought, ‘This is awesome.’ It’s not a huge textbook, so it’s not intimidating at all. My students can read it and highlight it, circle it and write on it. Then they can fold it, put it in their backpack, and take it home with them. It’s just the best product ever,” he added.

Students work on a Social Studies Project at Aldine Middle School.

Aldine Middle School’s ESL students also use the Spanish versions so they can understand the concepts as they learn English.

“Online, they are able to read it in Spanish, and then as they go along, we can graduate them from Spanish to English,” he said.

Wright is a passionate educator, an awesome example of the many teachers out there making a significant difference for America’s children.

To learn how you can use Studies Weekly Social Studies in your classroom visit studiesweekly.com.