Fifth grade teacher Fanya DeMaria is a veteran educator who has dedicated 23 years to NSU University School students. A major benefit of teaching at USchool for a little more than two decades has been her ability to forge lifelong bonds with her students and continue working with them as they advance from one level to the next. She appreciates watching them evolve developmentally and witnessing how the knowledge she imparted is used in their everyday lives, paved the way for a specific career path, and attributed to their passions.
Since she can remember, DeMaria knew she was meant to pursue a passion-driven career in teaching. Her father, who served as a tremendous influence in her life and was an advocate for education, ignited her lifelong love of learning. DeMaria spent her childhood years playing school with her brother, teaching him new things and grading his work, which prepared her for her future in the education system.
When it comes to her teaching style, DeMaria uses a variety of techniques and best practices that encourage learning in creative and impactful ways and benefit the future of her students’ lives. Having begun her career knowing the importance of meeting each learner’s needs, strengths, and interests, DeMaria implemented a differentiated method of instruction from the moment she began teaching and continues to use it today. This approach, combined with an inquiry-based method, helps her tailor and customize her lessons in a way that supports each individual student while encouraging her learners to enjoy the process of discovery in an inviting classroom atmosphere where all thoughts are accepted, respected, and used as a springboard for future investigation.
As a certified National Geographic Educator, DeMaria is a part of a network of global minded teachers who incorporate environmental education into their curriculum and teach about the world in innovative ways that empower students to become change agents. She is also a member of the National Science Teachers Association. In her free time, she enjoys running, cooking, traveling, and spending time with her nieces.
Get to know DeMaria:
What are some ways you instill a love of learning in your students?
Finding a student’s passion and making personal connections really allows students to love learning. I want students to relate what they are learning to something in their own lives.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The connection you form with your students. The classroom becomes your home and the students your family.
How has being a teacher impacted or changed your life?
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build the youth for our future.” My life is greatly impacted simply by knowing that I have had a fundamental role in shaping the life of so many children. Beyond teaching academic skills, I am fostering a child’s physical, social-emotional, and behavioral well-being each and every day. That in itself is enough to change one’s life.
So far in your career, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement has definitely been writing and designing a science lab curriculum for students in junior kindergarten through fifth grade. I devoted an entire summer to taking each grade’s curriculum and designing hands-on experiments that aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. The students truly loved coming to the lab and using the scientific method to explore a problem related to what they were learning in the classroom. Three years later, I still have students I taught in junior kindergarten come up to me saying how much they enjoyed this program.
What are some words of wisdom you would share with future educators?
Having empathy and taking a genuine interest in each of your student’s lives is so much more meaningful than sharing what we know. When a student feels safe, loved, and accepted in your classroom, they can achieve anything.