Thanks to their ability to engage with students as both learners and as people, Laurel Springs School’s caring teachers are often cited as the foundation for success throughout our students’ lives. Our expert faculty members dedicate themselves to developing strategies and providing personalized feedback to students based on their distinct personal learning style; these efforts are crucial to empowering students and vital in helping them develop the ability to advocate for their education.
English and Physical Education teacher Cindy Blandford values the art of the written word just as she values the meaningful relationships she develops with students. She has made a tremendous impact on the Laurel Springs community thanks to her eagerness to share her knowledge and understand her students.
Can you discuss your background in teaching, as well as what excited you about the thought of teaching with Laurel Springs?
I knew I wanted to become a teacher my junior year of high school. My English teacher, Marjie Blevins, served as an inspiration. She was quirky, relevant, intense, and loved the literature she taught us. I began to thirst for more and more knowledge, and she made me want to bring more of myself to my education.
How does it differ from teaching in a traditional setting and what are some of its benefits?
I enjoy teaching for LSS because it allows me the flexibility to be both an educator and a mom at the same time. I have two young sons, and I didn’t want to miss things like volunteering in their classrooms, taking them to school, and being home with them throughout the day. Teaching for LSS allows me to still be a part of middle school students’ lives while also being a significant presence in the life of my family. I do miss seeing students face to face, so the fact that my students are submitting video speeches is fun, as it allows me to put faces to the names.
If you could give a student three pieces of advice on how to succeed in school or life, what would they be?
1 – Value honesty above all else both in your relationships with your family and your relationship with school. You can do hard things, and when you can’t, ask for help. We all need help, and it’s essential to seek the actual help that you need. You can only do this while being honest with yourself and others.
2 – Push yourself beyond your area of comfort. Again, we are all capable of overcoming a challenge and accomplishing great things; we will fail at times, but it’s important that we are willing to fail, and fail valiantly, in order to grow, improve, and ultimately succeed.
3 – Make a schedule and follow it! Allow yourself rewards when you have followed your schedule.
What advice do you give parents who are new to this type of learning environment?
I encourage parents to remain actively involved in their student’s education. Because the students do not necessarily have daily contact with teachers, they need a face of accountability at home. Make a schedule with your child, and check to make sure that your child is completing his or her work according to that schedule. To ensure they’re staying on track, I recommend students complete at least 20% of each course per month. Also, encourage your child to attend Laurel Springs’ iClasses; these live classes are the perfect opportunity for students to engage with teachers and their peers.
What’s the best piece of teaching advice you ever received?
Every day is new. Students may not remember every course lesson, but they will remember one’s stories, one’s smile, and one’s presence.
What one lesson would you like your students to remember about your course?
I would like my students to gain an appreciation for literature. It is a gift that can transport them to entirely different worlds.
What is the most rewarding aspect about being a teacher?
My favorite part about being a teacher is when I am able to inspire or encourage a child to believe something about themselves that they didn’t believe before our encounter.
Describe your favorite lesson or activity that you teach?
My favorite lesson is from an iClass called “Beat the Author.” In these iClasses, I introduce students to a specific author and we analyze his or her work. We examine an author’s style, word choice, use of figurative language, etc. After we’ve analyzed that author’s writing by reading part of a book he/she has written, I give the students the next two pages of the book with images only and no text. The students are then tasked with creating the text for those two pages. Their goal is to mimic the writing of the author so closely that when their peers read their text alongside the actual text of the author, their peers may believe their writing to be the actual work of the original author. Students have had a lot of fun with this, and they have produced incredible writing as a result.
In teaching or in life, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
I would have to say my relationships. I have the most astoundingly solid, wonderful friendships, many of which I’ve had since I was a young girl. I work to foster relationships full of honesty, compassion, and vulnerability. I strive for this with my sons and my husband as well.
If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be doing?
Counseling or some form of it. If I could build a career that involves sitting and talking with teenagers, hearing their stories, and being a listening ear for them, that’s what I would do.
What hobbies or activities do you participate in?
I’ve recently fallen in love with an exercise class called Turbo Kick. I also enjoy reading and being with my family.
What are your words to live by?
I would want to live by the words: don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re doing the best that you can, and you are enough.