Helen Santoro

  • Grade 5 Faculty
  • Faculty Member at King since 1997
  • Grade 4. Assistant Dean of Faculty Lower School. Co-Chair of the Faculty Mentoring Program. Professional Growth & Development Committee
  • BA, Southern Connecticut University
  • MAT, Sacred Heart University

What motivated you to become a teacher?
English was my second language. As a child, my early school years were tough because I didn’t understand what was being said, asked or expected of me. My culture and traditions were a bit different, as well. I had some very kind and patient teachers who never gave up on me. I saw how important and far patience, kindness and hard work could take someone. I wanted to make a difference for students.

What do you hope your students gain from knowing you?
To know that they have choices, and their choices affect them and those around them. Character is important. You do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do -- no rewards, no prizes. Just feel good about doing it right and doing it well. Most of all, I want my students to know that they matter.

Describe a lesson you look forward to each year?
One of my favorite lessons is to launch the Immigration Unit in social studies by creating a fruit salad with the students. We discuss how the U.S. used to be thought of as a melting pot, but it is really more like a fruit salad. Immigrants don’t melt into each other and lose their identity, rather everybody brings their own essence to a community. The students participate by adding different fruit to the bowl and reflecting on their heritage. “I know my family is from Holland and we...” This lesson addresses all of the learning styles: tactile, visual, auditory, and sensory. It not only meets an Academic Standard, but it provides students with personal growth in confidence and identity, and the children love it!

Describe what you feel sets apart King and our students?
King students are confident, curious and able to form a strong community. King teachers are constantly striving to teach each lesson the best they can.

King helps students achieve their personal best. How do you accomplish this in your classroom?
My teaching changes each year, with each class, with each student, each day with each interaction. I set a goal for each student in the beginning of the year. I get to know the child, connect with them and take my lead from the child and do what works best for them to help them meet that goal. Most importantly, the child needs to think, to believe, that they met that goal on their own because they worked hard at it. This builds true and lasting confidence, self esteem and resilience.

What drew you to becoming involved in Professional Growth & Development, Co-Mentoring, and serving as Assistant Dean of Faculty Lower School?
Teaching here for many years, I’ve had many opportunities. I’ve watched, worked with and learned from master teachers and administrators. I now have the opportunity to take what I’ve learned and apply it to my different roles at King. My hope is to help others in their growth as professionals and to help them and me continue to grow in the true love of teaching.