It’s important to be positive

My name is Keron. It’s pronounced ‘Care-On,’ like, carry on, which is kind of what I do. Miss Bess really thought that I looked a lot like Kid President. She put pictures on Twitter and it kind of took off.

 She described you as somebody who motivates people and is always positive. Is that correct?

Yes, I’d say that’s about right. So, basically my story is: I lived a pretty happy, regular life up until second grade when my mom died. Then I was really down, so I did a bunch of things to help me get back up. At first it was sweet foods, but then I realized how bad that was. So then I went to my friend’s house and I tried this game called Minecraft and I really enjoyed it. I started watching some videos on it and sometimes I would hear some bad words and I would say ‘ugh’ and move on. Eventually I found this YouTuber called Stampy Longnose and the first video I watched had something to do with treasure hunting, or something like that, and Minecraft. It was really good. I started watching more and more. I watched so much that, before I knew it, the day was done. I can’t go a day without watching one of his videos now.

 It sounds like you like the fact that the videos are very positive.

 Well, being nice – nothing bad happens when you’re good. It’s good for both people. If you’re really negative, well, it might seem good to you but to others it’s like, ‘Bleh, I don’t want to be around this person.’ So, that’s why I think it’s important to be positive and just spread it because then we have a positive society.

 Why having a positive society important?

We will have less problems in the world. Like, bullying is really huge and I think that if we erase it, it will just be a good world. With all the things that kids can get into, it could be easy to go to the wrong side. For all the kids out there, don’t go the easy route. With the easy route, it can seem easy but then it’s like a waterfall. It’s easy to just go down the waterfall but, when you fall, it’s just dangerous. But if you try to swim the other way, then you’re safe and you don’t get caught up in bad things. I always try to do the harder route than the easier route. That seems to be important.

Personally, one day I want to move to Switzerland because it seems like a good life there. Then, I want to grow my own food because of all the GMOs and chemicals. Like I said, the easy way of growing food. I want to get my own food so I don’t have to deal with all the chemicals. Switzerland is really good because it’s really clean there too. It uses clean ways of getting energy. And also, it’s a really stable economy and it’s neutral, so those are the main things I like about it.

 Have you been there before?

No, but I’ve just researching a lot on where I want to go, and Switzerland seems to be the place. I want a lot of land to have animals there. I also want a – well, if I get the money – I also want a ranch-style mansion, if that makes sense. I really like rural areas. That’s something that I really like. There is something really satisfying to me about animals and just crops growing. That’s something that I told my teacher about, rows of just wheat. You can grow wheat in Minecraft too, and that’s really satisfying when it’s completely grown there. I think it will be really satisfying to just see rows upon rows of wheat there too. It’s something that I really want to do. I mean, I’ll need a lot of money for it but, in the end, I’ll find a way.

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Creating lifelong readers

I’m one of nine children and we all went through VBCPS. I went to Bayside Elementary, Old Donation Center, Kemps Landing and then Princess Anne High School. I still have siblings at Princess Anne High School in ninth and 11th grade. I’m in the middle, the fourth oldest, and that’s kind of what got me into teaching. I’ve worked with kids my whole life – older, younger, teaching and leading kids, doing a lot of different things. I really enjoyed doing that and I figured, when I went to college, why not continue doing that? So, I kind of got into teaching. The more I learned about it and the more I did it, the more I really liked it and enjoyed doing what I do in the classroom.

Why did you decide to teach elementary school?

Just the energy level. Their joy for being here. Every day, regardless of my mood, they’re smiling. It just brightens my morning to see them every morning when they walk in. And just what they’re doing in first grade — reading — this is an important part. This is where struggling readers begin, at this age level. So if I do everything I can do to help them become better readers and enjoy reading and become lifelong readers – it is a passion of mine. I really want them to find that joy of reading now, and I think that there are different things I can do to try and instill that in them — just do everything I can to give them the opportunity to enjoy reading and writing.

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I want to help protect the environment

In my freshman and sophomore years I was not involved with Landstown at all. I just went to school; I did my work; and then I went home and came back the next day. But then this year I was prompted to join SCA. I did not know there were so many amazing people who are here to help the student body. It felt like I was part of a second family. It branched off into other community service projects. I’ve made maybe like 40 new friends just because I’ve been more involved with the school, and I just really enjoy helping out teachers and doing our part to make Landstown better than it already is, which is great.

I would like to become an environmental engineer in the future. I’m very much an advocate for environmental sustainability and I really want to help challenge climate change and just make the world – help save the world, I guess, through protecting the environment. Being here at Landstown has helped me decide to become an environmental engineer. I took a class called Think Tank. It’s kind of like independent study. You get to choose your own topic that you want to study and I chose environmental science. I wanted to see if I was interested in it because I already had a feeling that I wanted to help protect the environment. It just helped me know what I want to do in the future, and then this year I joined Eco Club to further the experience in protecting the environment.

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I love being a music teacher

I’ve been a teacher with VBCPS for 20 years. I started out as a third-grade teacher for six years and then became an elementary music teacher. I’ve been at Kempsville for 18 of my teaching years and consider it my home away from home. I love being a music teacher because I get to work with every child in our school and witness their development over the years. I believe music is not only a valuable subject itself but it also helps children understand other areas such as reading, math, science and social studies. I especially love how music brings out the best in children: their sensitive, creative, expressive, human side. The greatest feeling is watching children come to life when they sing, dance or play music. Music transcends language and ability, and unites children together. It’s a true joy and privilege to be a part of children’s musical awakening.

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I love the kids

I graduated from Kempsville High and wanted to come back to Virginia Beach. I worked in Williamsburg for a year and decided to come back home. This is my fourth year here. I live here. I sponsor SCA. I’m the assistant student activities coordinator. I coach JV cheerleading. I live here.

Why do you do all that you do?

We have a really amazing, diverse student body and, in the past year especially, a lot of school spirit. I love the kids. They’re fantastic. They make it worth it. They’re like my own kids. I love my job or I wouldn’t do it.

What would you say to other teachers about getting involved or advising a club? 

I think it’s the best part of my job. You get to know kids in a different way than you do in the classroom and build those relationships.

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I hope to major in biomedical engineering

As an eighth-grader I remember I was a shy, little kid and I remember seeing all these awesome seniors and high schoolers. I thought, ‘I want to be that.’ I remember I got a green dolphin pin. I still have it on my wall. Eighth-grade me couldn’t have imagined standing here talking to you. It’s amazing how Ocean Lakes has helped me.

In the future I hope to major in biomedical engineering. That’s one of my life goals. As part of my senior project I mentored with one of my, I guess you could say, distant cousins and she told me about the biomedical engineering work she does in her lab in New York City. After that experience in the lab and seeing what she did as a researcher and all that, I said, ‘This is what I need to do. This is what I want to do.’ It really peaked my interest and it’s really what I want to do.

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I want to be a nurse

I want to be a nurse. I’ve always known I want to work in the medical field. This year, in July, my grandfather passed away. That’s the second grandfather I had that passed away from cancer. One of my aunts has had cancer. My cousin was really affected heavily by leukemia. So, cancer just affects my family. All of my aunts—a lot of them are nurses, so pediatric oncology is something that I’ve really become interested in, especially in the past few months. I’ve always wanted to be in the medical field and I’ve always wanted to work with kids. I feel like I can help so many people and I can help the families, too. Having a good support system is part of being a nurse. I think I can be good at it.

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I’m very involved

The three things that I’m involved with are: I’m the head student athletic trainer; I’m the SCA Treasurer; and I’m also one of the percussion captains in marching band. I’m very involved. I’m here almost every day after school doing various activities outside of school, coming in on weekends, and helping teachers.

Why do you do it all?

I just like to be involved with different activities and I don’t like to stay home. I like the whole concept of being an athletic trainer for different sports and learning different things before you even go off to college. It’s getting me ready to go off to college to be an athletic trainer.

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It’s fall time

I have a pumpkin at home, because it’s fall time, and I am going to draw on it. I’m going to make a scary face like this one on my shirt. I’m going to cut it out. Mom’s going to help me do that.

Are you going to wear a costume for Halloween?

I’m going to be a pirate with a hat on and a thing on your eye—a patch! It has a heart on it. And I’m going to have a sword. And I’m going to have boots. And I’m going to have a pirate shirt.

What else do you like about fall?

I love to have treats when it’s trick or treating time and I say, “Trick or treat!” I like Skittles and lollipops and chocolate.

What do you say when they give you candy?

I say, “Thank you.”

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I just love the kids

I spent 21 years in the Navy and then I retired. I actually got into teaching by accident. I signed up to be a substitute teacher and I fell in love with it. I decided to pursue a career in teaching. I graduated from Regent with a Master of Education in K-12 Special Education.

I just love the kids. They’re amazing. They all just try so hard and put their best effort in every day. They all have different struggles and they come from all different places, but they’re just great kids. I love them.

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I like to dance

I like to dance. I go to Old Donation School to dance every Wednesday. I like that there’s really no such thing as bad dancing because you’re just expressing yourself.

Do you want to be a dancer when you grow up?

When I grow up I want to be a cheerleading teacher. I like to teach stuff and help my sister. She wants to be a cheerleader in middle school. I’m trying to train her and it’s really fun for me.

Help me finish this sentence: I think it’s important to always

…be kind and listen. When you are kind you treat people the way you want to be treated, and I would like to be treated kindly so I treat other people kindly. It’s good to listen because if there was something going on and you didn’t know what to do, you’re just sitting there and sitting there.

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I like science and reading the most

I like science and reading most. I like to read. It’s kind of in the family. Everyone in my family likes to read. And I like science because I want to be an engineer when I grow up so I want to know how to do all this stuff. I want to make things.

What are you thinking about making or inventing?

I don’t know. Maybe a wheelchair for if both your arms and your legs don’t work. It could have something like a microphone to control the wheelchair.

What else?

Hmmm.

Maybe a plane that doesn’t use jets that are dangerous. Maybe something that’s less flammable to make a plane.

Have you read “Rat Man?” It’s really good. It’s kind of a character I can relate to, except I’m not in middle school. He has kind of an annoying sister. He likes to read comics.

Why is it called “Rat Man?”

Because the kid gets an ad in the back of a comic and it turns out that the ad is real. It lets him be a superhero. You can mail it away and it ends up coming that day. So when he put the suit on it gave him powers, like flying for some reason. I’m not sure how rats fly. He has the rat squeak—a really, really loud squeak. He can swim really fast and he can hear. There’s one thing: he can only be Rat Man for a summer. Then, the very last day, he gets caught in the movie theater and the suit gets burned. He loses his powers.

What’s a superpower you would like to have?

Hmmm.

Flight! I want to be able to fly. Though, chameleon powers would be pretty cool because you could crawl and you could turn invisible because chameleons kind of do that.

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Take advantage of every opportunity

If I could give this year’s eighth-graders any advice on high school, it would be to take advantage of every opportunity the school division has to offer you. I gained invaluable hands-on experience and training from Kempsville High School and the Advanced Technology Center, and it helped me to earn a great job with the division’s Department of Technology right out of high school. The academy and extended learning opportunities afforded to Virginia Beach students are unparalleled—do your research and take advantage of them all.

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This is my world

Let me tell you what—these kids change the world. They change the world! I’m 75 years old and every time I walk through that door I learn something new. I’m not kidding.

It’s been 18 years that I’ve been volunteering with the same teacher. This is our future. They come into your heart and they stay there forever. I have kids that I met 18 years ago—they’ll come to the door and say, “Mrs. Seltzer, it’s me.” No matter what’s going on in my world, when I walk in this classroom it makes it all better. I have kept every single card, note and letter that a child has written me, and someday, when I’m dead, they’re going through this stuff and they’ll say, “I wonder why she kept these things.”

I had a doctor tell me one time—and this is very interesting—if you can live your life as an adult but see the world through a child’s eyes, you’re going to be the happiest person on the face of the earth. And I’ve been blessed because when I walk in here on Fridays—these kids, they love you.

And I’m Mrs. Santa Claus! Did Ben tell you? It’s magic. They believe every word that comes out of my mouth. I have the coolest outfit and a magic violin. I have Rudolph and an elf. It’s magic. I’m already getting ready for Christmas. I have my Christmas presents all wrapped. Until my eyes—and my eyes are very, very bad—I’m going to do it until I can’t do it anymore.

I don’t do the last day of school because by the end of the year you love them, and I can’t come in here and say goodbye. They come into your heart and stay there forever. I don’t understand why more people don’t do this. This is my world.

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I like that I have a great school

I like that I have a great school. I have a great principal and a great school counselor. I like my teacher. She’s very nice. She’s very helpful when I don’t understand something.

My favorite subjects right now are social studies and math. Math, I think, is really easy. What’s not really easy for me is division. In social studies we’re learning maps and it’s very fun. We’re able to color in the coastal plain and all five regions.

Have you thought about what you want to be when you grow up?

Kind of. I kind of want to be a doctor, but I don’t really think I’ll be a doctor because I get sickened by blood. I’m thinking about being a teacher but that’s too hard. I think I’m going to be a veterinarian.

What do you like to do when you’re not at school?

I like to play with my best friend, Rylee. I love going to my grandma’s house because she’s so nice. They have a big pool that I can go in—but not right now, and we have a big, nice room.

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WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students)

This is my first time volunteering with WATCH D.O.G.S. I get to come in and see my kids during the day and actually give back and help the kids. I love kids. I have a fifth-grader and I have a preschooler here.

My kids saw me on the announcements and we took a picture. I walked my son down to his art class and then I went outside with my daughter while she was doing PE. I have a schedule of other classes to visit and help.

What would you say to others about taking time to volunteer in their child’s school?

I think especially for dads, if you want to implement change – volunteer. If I’m here I can see my kids. I’m here. I’m a superhero. I can help.

I’m retired military and I go to school full time Monday through Thursday, so my Fridays are open. I’m going to school for human services but since I’ve been here today, I think I have a new calling. Maybe I need to work in a school and do something with kids because they are our future.

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I like reading

I like reading. My favorite book is “My Side of the Mountain.” It’s about a kid who left his family and went onto a mountain. He’s surviving on his own by collecting nuts and deer skin, and he lives under the stump of a tree. He has this pet hawk.

What do you like to do outside of school?

I play golf. I go to the First Tee. You go through the core values like honesty, judgment, caring—all that. It helps me be able to hit the ball and to know all the core values for school, like not to be mean. You want to be honest in school. You want to help others and use your judgment to make good decisions.

Have you thought about what kinds of jobs you might interested in when you’re older?

When I get older I want to become a firefighter. My dad is a firefighter and I want to do his job. You can help people and put out fires. You can help people that are in car accidents, like if the door is stuck and they can’t get out. So, it’s just helping other people when they are in trouble or in danger.

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I’m a military wife

I’m a military wife. The Navy is what brought me here; it’s a huge part of my life. Virginia Beach has welcomed me into their division, and I feel right at home here despite the fact that I have moved around. Among the three other districts I have been in as a military wife, Virginia Beach is definitely a premier district and I couldn’t be more honored to work for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. This division does not compare to the previous ones just because of the amount of teacher capacity that it helps build; meaning, they allow me to grow professionally and I know that whatever the division gives me that’s related to curriculum is absolutely 100 percent research-based and best practice. So I feel very comfortable teaching here.

Outside of school I actually have my very own YouTube channel that relates to things that I do in my classroom and things that I do to help prepare to be a teacher. My first year teaching was awful. I didn’t have anyone to look to and, with the wake of technology and how many resources we have, I feel like I can maybe help a first year teacher to have a year that maybe isn’t so awful. I’ve had a pretty good response so far and I thoroughly enjoy being able to track what I do on a day-to-day basis so that other teachers can be helped by that.

What kinds of things do you share?

I plan lessons on there. I share how I make groups and teacher preparation. I did a whole series on how I set up my classroom and places to go to get cheap materials but materials that are dependable and aesthetically-pleasing. Then I also did a series on some of the things I’m using as far as technology. I’m a Seesaw ambassador and so I did some video tutorials on how to set up your Seesaw class and ways to use Seesaw. So, again, it’s just a resource for teachers so they can have someone to depend on besides their colleagues if they want some different ideas.

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Invent a flying car

I like playing with my friends after school. I also like, when I finish my homework, to just play with my dog sometimes. His name is Bo. He’s a Golden Retriever mixed with a Labrador. We had another dog but he passed away two years ago, so Bo’s new and he’s like one and a half.

My favorite subject in school is math. It’s not very hard but it’s not very easy either. It’s fun to do. It’s just the fact that you get to figure out and solve a little mystery. Every single equation can be like a mystery.

When I grow up I kind of want to be a mechanic. One day over the summer I was helping my grandpa fix a car because we were going to drive it from New Hampshire to Virginia. He was fixing the car and I wanted to help, so he let me help him.

I think it would be cool to invent a flying car because then people wouldn’t always have to pay for transportation by planes and it would be safer.

Would there be stoplights in the sky?

Yes! I can invent those, too.

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My students make my heart so full

I’m really happy where I am, working in third grade. I previously taught first grade for five years, so this is my first year in third grade. I’m still trying to learn the curriculum. Luckily, Virginia Beach gives us a lot of resources to help me wrap my mind around all of it. I’m just so happy to work in this district because it really is a great district. I went through elementary school, middle school and high school in Virginia Beach. I graduated from Green Run High School. I haven’t made it back there yet. They keep us busy here. It’s a lot of fun.

I’ve had the ESL cluster the whole time I’ve been here. That’s always interesting. It’s a nice challenge for me. I took Spanish all through high school and thank goodness because that’s really helped, especially with our population here. I’m still kind of nervous talking to parents but the kids really get a kick out of it when I try. They teach me so much, too.

I actually have some of the kids now that I had in first grade and the growth from first grade to the beginning of third grade is incredible to see. That’s why I loved being in first grade so much – from the beginning of the year to the end of the year is just worlds apart. It’s the same thing with the end of first grade to the beginning of third grade – worlds apart. I‘m a little nervous to be in an SOL grade but I’m looking forward to the challenge so much.

What led you to teaching?

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a teacher. I was kind of one of those people who didn’t really know what to do. My family always put an emphasis on education. Homework was the first thing we had to do before we could play outside. I was the first one in my whole family to graduate from college. That was a really big accomplishment just for myself, and making my parents proud was always something that I wanted to do. I worked at a bank for a couple of years and then it wasn’t challenging enough for me. I thought, what could be more challenging and different every single day? And that led me to teaching. I’m really happy that I did take that path because every day is a challenge. Every day is something new. I get up hours early so I can get here early because, honestly, I do want to prepare myself, but I really can’t wait to come to work every day. My students make my heart so full.

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I’m kind of like flint

I love what I do. I’m kind of like flint — looking to create sparks wherever I go. This is something I enjoy doing and never expected to do. I was happy teaching. I enjoyed the classroom and under David French and his leadership, he wanted to know what a digital classroom looked like. He gave me the wings to figure it out. It was an amazing ride. Over five years it was just constantly pushing the envelope and seeing what you could do with it. The opportunity chased me to transfer over to instructional technology. The last five years in technology have been crazy-through-the-roof. It’s been a killer wave to ride and to get people excited about the neat things it can do for them.

What do you hope your students take away from your lessons?

How to eliminate walls. How to think beyond because that’s what I’ve been asked to do is to go beyond the walls – go outside the box and become a risk taker. I already was a risk taker, but Dave French made me an even greater risk taker because he allowed me to shoot for the moon and see where it took me. So I want them to be able to look beyond a wall and figure out how to go there and not be held back by anything. And to be free enough, of course, enjoy learning and be lifelong learners and know that there are other jobs out there and they can do other things in technology because that’s their world. In 30 years they’re going to look at your phone and go, “Wow, it needed a battery? You had to charge it at the end of the day? Every day?” What the progression is going to be in their lifetime is going to be crazy. It’s an exciting thing to watch kids grow and take their learning into their own hands and be excited about that.

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I do three sports

I do three sports: soccer, gymnastics and dance. I go to Old Donation School for dance. It’s a gifted dance school just a couple of minutes away from here. I like jazz and hip-hop. I feel calm when I’m dancing. That’s how I calm down. For soccer, I am on a travel team. The farthest I go is Richmond and the Outer Banks. We had a game and this player kicked me in the back of the shin to get the ball from me. And gymnastics I might put hold on because it’s 7:30-9:00 p.m. and I will be tired. I like to do roundoff back handsprings on the floor and press handstands. I can do a roundoff back handspring on the grass. It’s a cartwheel/backflip. I also like art. I like to do clay because it feels cool to touch and then paint it when it’s dry.

Have you thought what you want to do when you grow up?

Not really, but what I’m thinking about being is a person who finds things deep underwater. I love animals. I like to do horseback riding sometimes, not always. And the good thing about what I want to be when I grow up is…well, I might be a zookeeper, somebody who studies animals – I don’t know what that’s called – or somebody who goes underwater to find cool new things because 50 percent of the ocean has not been explored yet.

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