MARIETTA TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALIST PROFILE: KAREN KRESAK
Emily Lembeck Early Learning Center teacher Karen Kresak didn’t always aspire to be a teacher. In fact, her career choice throughout college was to be a therapist who worked with children. She went to graduate school and earned a Master’s in Counseling Psychology.
“I loved working with the children during my internship at a school for children with emotional disorders,” Ms. Kresak explained. “I also worked full time in a psychiatric hospital with young children. It was stressful at times, but I learned a lot from the children and my colleagues.”
When she returned to Georgia, it was difficult to find a job in her field. So, she went back to school and earned a Master’s in School Psychometry, hoping she would be more marketable if she had assessment skills. Ms. Kresak began working with Northwest Georgia RESA as a teacher in one of their satellite classes for students with severe emotional behavior disorders, and she obtained a provisional certificate and then earned the credits she needed to be certified. The position allowed her to use some of the skills she had learned in her graduate program and opened up a whole new world for her. She quickly realized she loved teaching! It was then that she knew that teaching was the right career choice for her.
Ms. Kresak started her career at Marietta City Schools teaching in the self-contained emotional behavior disorder (EBD) classroom with grades 2-3. She obtained the endorsement for preschool special education and began teaching in the special needs preschool program. She had finally found her niche.
“Being able to intervene early and teach the skills that the children need to learn is very rewarding,” she explained. “Their accomplishments at this age are always reasons to celebrate, no matter how small. Knowing that I am having a lasting effect on a child’s growth and development makes me thankful that I chose this path.”
Additionally, Ms. Kresak serves on several committees that allow her to meet and collaborate with different organizations and members of the community and provide knowledgeable input regarding young children and their development and education. She has served as the representative for MCS to the Metro Preschool Coordinators’ Consortium since 2003. She also serves as a member of the Marietta High School Career Pathways Community Advisory Committee, the Cobb Early Learning Initiative Committee, and the Cobb County Head Start School Readiness Committee, and she is a member of the Cobb Douglas Interagency Coordinating Council. She has also served on the Local Arrangement Committee for the 2015 Division of Early Childhood Conference Committee.
Ms. Kresak believes that we have to take a more balanced approach to teaching and learning that develops the whole child; supporting students’ social, emotional, and cognitive development produces positive student outcomes.
“Teaching preschool can be loud, chaotic, and unpredictable,” Ms. Kresak explained. “It is also greatly rewarding because I get to witness the growth and development of young minds. Knowing that I am helping build those connections in their brains is a remarkable feeling. I am not only a teacher, but a brain architect, helping to build a strong foundation for lifelong learning.”
Ms. Kresak one of three Teacher of the Year finalists for Marietta City Schools. The district will celebrate its award winning teachers and employees May 28, 2019 at its annual Teacher of the Year and Employee Awards Luncheon at Roswell Street Baptist Church.