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Bina Neumann

Sixth-Grade Language Arts/Social Studies Teacher, 27 years teaching, 7 years at Country Day
BA, University of Western Ontario

Why did you become a teacher?

After college, I had the opportunity to teach English in Japan, and it was a life-changing experience for me. The classroom just felt like a natural place for me to be. It also took me back to my elementary and middle school years. I struggled greatly academically and if it wasn’t for the support of my teachers, I think that school would have been a lot more challenging for me. I want to be the kind of teacher who supports all her students in their learning.      

One of the things I learned early on in my teaching career is you can have an amazing curriculum but if the students don’t form a connection with you, they are not going to be invested in the learning process. The students don’t have to be your best friend, but they must know you care about them and that you’re passionate about what you’re teaching. If you can accomplish those two goals, they will work to their greatest potential. 

What attracted you to Country Day?

What really spoke to me about Country Day is our commitment to inclusiveness and diversity. I believe Country Day strives to be a truly inclusive environment. We want our students to feel a sense of belonging. Also, the collaboration that goes on between teachers is something I’ve never experienced to this degree at any other school. Everyone is invested in not only creating lessons that will be impactful but also in each other’s success. The resources that go into equipping teachers with the tools they need to be the best teachers they can be is incredible. I have benefited greatly from the Country Day Fund. I have taken part in professional development opportunities that have helped me develop and nurture skills—just like we try to do for the students, and that has made me a better teacher.

Why do you like teaching middle school age students?

Middle schoolers are truly curious—they want to learn everything, and they want to question things. I love their passion. I also love that they are funny and that they are willing to laugh at themselves. We’ve created a culture at the Middle School that mistakes are part of the learning process, and it is what makes us better human beings. I love teaching because I never know what the day will bring. I teach two sections of language arts and social studies back-to-back, and what I might get from the students in one section could be very different from the students in the other section. Although the curriculum is the same, the students never are. They bring their own personalities and uniqueness, so it never feels like the same year twice.