Teacher of Distintion Sabrina Kovacs shows off some of the moves that make her such a hit with her students! (Submitted photo)
She earned her Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from FCGU, and a Masters in reading education from Nova Southeastern. A native of Fort Myer, Ms. Kovacs first became interested in teaching children when she was a summer counselor during high school. She loved it - being with the kids, helping them - and followed that route through college. She is the first in her family to be a teacher. Her mother is an Italian immigrant and her role model. Diagnosed with thyroid cancer about 20 years ago when Ms. Kovacs was about 10 years old, she grew up with the many lessons that diversity taught her. In addition, English was her mom’s second language. She remembers how her mother persevered in trying to learn and how she loved to help people. Her mother taught her that it’s rewarding to help others, to work hard to overcome obstacles and to make a difference. Ms. Kovacks chose elementary level because “it’s so much fun!” and she admits that being “outgoing and goofy” has a big part in her classroom. She wants to make learning fun for her students and her personality helps her do that. In addition to the basic subjects, she hopes to teach them that high expectations and hard word pay off in the end. She finds that using songs helps her kids remember vocabulary words and abstract concepts - things are just easier to remember in song form, she said. She remembers listening to the radio on her way to school and how a pop song gets in your head and stays there. It showed here that using entertainment helps engage her students. She uses the tunes to popular songs and sometimes makes up silly ones to achieve her goals. For Ms. Kovacs being named a Teacher of Distinction is a wonderful achievement. “I feel really appreciative being recognized by the Champions for Learning such a great organization. I’m grateful to be in a career that gets rewards, but knows that so many other teachers have the potential of being a Teacher of Distinction as well, and wishes that everybody could be recognized like they deserve. Ms. Kovacs said she is very passionate about teaching and education. That’ s why she got a Master’s degree in reading - to empower her kids. “I think they saw my passion and enthusiasm for education,” she commented. Ms. Kovacs has been in education long enough to see many changes, but tries to take it all in stride. “Change is just part of the job,” she said, and tries to just “go with the flow.” In fact, she notes that teachers change lesson plans daily to take advantage of questions and things that come up. They adapt. When requirements are added, she said she just thinks of why she’s here - for the kids. “I always remember to enjoy my kids. Change is second nature, she acknowledges, adding that her kids keep her going. “They make change very easy for me.” She also acknowledges the help she gets from co-workers and colleagues who helped and supported her.”They’re the ones who really help,” she said.. “I rely on their experience. They have what I don’t have. They guide me, and gave me some very old strategies that work.” Ms. Kovacs does not speak Spanish or Creole herself but she taught English in Hungary - and doesn’t speak Hungarian either. She can, however, use that experience and learned strategies for teaching all languages, like pictures, modeling and reading aloud. She also relies on the kids themselves. “Kids are like sponges. It’s amazing how smart these kids are! I look at them with respect as they respect me.” Visuals, movement and song are great ways to connect with her students, she notes. and adds, “I live a very positive life and do away with the negative.” It’s another thing kids respond to. Kids need positive models, she said, adding, “I love being that positive model for them.” She said she knew that there would be challenges teaching in Immokalee. She just remembers where her heart is. Look for Mr. Mazurkewitz’ profile coming up.
Sabrina Kovacs, a first grade teachers at Lake Trafford Elementary, and Eric Mazurkewitz, at Immokalee High School are both Teachers of Distinction this year. Ms. Kovacs has been a teacher for six years with Collier County Public Schools, including two at Lake Trafford and four at Eden Park. .