Ryan’s teaching career began in Ireland before returning home

Fourth-grade teacher Lindsay Ryan works with XX on her reading lessons. Before coming to the MCSD, Ryan taught in Ireland where she lived with her husband. Aside from her teaching role, Ryan is also a curriculum leader for K-6 language arts, and serves on the Standards Referenced Reporting pilot team. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Panther Professionals
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Panther Professionals is a weekly series highlighting educators, administrators, staff and aides who are dedicated to the future of the Monticello Community School District.

     “My work in Ireland helped shape who I am as a teacher.”

     Lindsay Ryan, who’s in her eighth year teaching for the MCSD, began her teaching career in Ireland.

     “I student taught there for three years after I was married,” shared Ryan, whose husband, Colin, was born and raised in Ireland.

     Ryan was a long-term substitutive teacher for about seven months in Ireland. She taught at a small private school on the Dublin coast.

     “That was my first official teaching job,” Ryan said with pride. Not everyone can add international teaching to his/her resume.

     In order to become a full-time teacher in Ireland, Ryan said she would have to learn and teach Irish to her students. She chose to remain a substitute and resource teacher.

     Resource teachers in Ireland are a combination of special education and English language teachers. Ryan took on this role at an inner-city school in Dublin.

     “It was very diverse school,” she said, “with the Embassy nearby.” There were students who attended from various ethnicities: U.S., England, China and the Philippians, just to name a few.

     Wanting a change of scenery, though Ryan said it was surreal looking out her windows at school seeing the Dublin Bay, they chose to move back home to Monticello, Iowa.

     “I was ready for a new adventure in the U.S.,” she said of her teaching career.

     Before Ryan moved home, she sought out job opportunities.

     “I didn’t want to move until I had a job,” she said.

     As luck would have it, there was a fourth-grade opening at Carpenter Elementary School here in Monticello.

     “It was perfect timing,” recalled Ryan.

     When interviewing for the job, though, the interview was done via Skype, a video communications app. Ryan conducted the interview in the spring and moved back over the summer to prepare for the upcoming school year.

     In her role as a fourth-grade teacher, Ryan not only has her own core classroom of students, but also teaches writing to the entire fourth-grade.

     “There is a big emphasis on writing, with some grammar,” she said.

     The writing courses also include typing and structure such as creating drafts of your work and how to research when writing a paper/essay.

     “You see a huge growth in their skills form the beginning to the end of fourth grade,” Ryan said of her students.

     She said team-teaching with the other fourth-grade teachers (Steph Isaac and Angie Wink) works out well for everyone.

     Ryan said teaching in general, but more precisely teaching elementary kids, suits her personality.

     “I’m able to put my own creativity into the job,” she said. “I always liked school growing up.” She said each day is different. “My day is divided with various subjects,” she said.

     Having grown up in Monticello, Ryan said it was an easy transition coming into the district, even from teaching in another country.

     “People already knew me and made me feel comfortable,” she said looking back. “There’s a great sense of community here.”

     Ryan said working in the MCSD, the staff are able to take part so many professional development opportunities that are offered.

     “We keep learning new things and growing in our professions,” she said. “Everyone collaborates so well, not just within the classrooms, but with the aides and special education teachers, too.” Ryan elaborated, saying the collaboration is all about what’s in the students’ best interest.

     “We want to do the best we can for these students to help them grow,” she said.

     Starting out, Ryan attended the University of Northern Iowa, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (K-6) with endorsements in K-8 English language arts, K-8 reading, and K-8 social studies.

     “I didn’t know my first year what I wanted to teach,” she said of earning so many endorsements.

     Aside from her classroom duties, Ryan is also in her third year as the K-6 English language arts curriculum leader. Working with the district’s TLS (teacher leadership system) grant, this leadership position allows Ryan to help plan different professional development opportunities.

     “There’s a lot of training involved,” she said of meeting with other English language arts teachers.

     Their work is also connected to the Standards Referenced Reporting (SRP), of which Ryan is part of the pilot team.

     “It helps us get a better understanding of the process,” she said of the grading system. “This was a good move for Monticello because eventually, the majority of schools will go this route,” speaking of SRP. Ryan added that this program allows the teachers to get to know each student’s separate skillsets.

     Ryan said being part of a leadership team in any fashion challenges her as an educator.

     Another thing she enjoys about the MCSD is the professional coaching offered. Ryan said she meets with District Behavioral Coach Shannon Guyer to gain insight into different techniques that can be used within the classroom.

     “It’s about helping the students with their behavioral, social, and emotional skills,” Ryan explained of the different teaching tools.

     In her spare time, Ryan and her husband and their two children, ages 2 and 5, simply enjoy family time.

     “We love being outdoors together,” she said.

     The Ryan family takes weekend trips to parks and museums.

     During their summers, they visit Ireland to see Colin’s family.


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