When Matt Bloom learned that he would be switching to a new school for first grade, he felt nervous and anxious. He already didn’t like school, because he felt teachers always asked him to do assignments that they did not explicitly teach him how to do. “But I remember my first few weeks at Windward. For the first time, I felt like I was able to learn. I no longer felt like I was dumb or left out because my teachers were nurturing, and the program worked. I felt successful and a growing sense of academic prowess.”
“I remember my first few weeks at Windward. For the first time, I felt like I was able to learn.”
Matt was enrolled in both the Westchester Lower and Middle Schools through eighth grade, and he models the style of his former social studies teacher, Jason Steiker. “I remember Mr. Steiker had a very colloquial and casual approach with students, and he spoke to us like we were adults. He had a big impact on me and made school my safe place, so I try and bring some of Mr. Steiker into my classes.” He also credited his basketball coach Chris Eberhard for supporting him emotionally and Diane Kissner for her critical guidance with outplacement.
Following Windward, Matt was a boarding student at The Pennington School in New Jersey before enrolling at Binghampton University where he studied English literature and education. “In college, I was really invested in journalism and literature, and I really thought about why. I wondered how did Windward take someone like me, who initially struggled with reading and writing, into becoming an English major?” Matt felt, as an individual with dyslexia, like he didn’t often struggle with a learning difference anymore. “Not to say it goes away, but I felt like I had been fully remediated. And that is because Windward’s tactics and strategies made life so much easier.”
Matt was interested in understanding the Windward program and specifically how it helped students with language-based learning disabilities. He felt it was 100% successful for him, so he wanted to learn how it worked. Matt was driven to start his career with a Windward framework, so, after graduating from Binghampton, Matt started his first year as an assistant teacher at the Manhattan campus.
“The Windward Teacher Training Program is the best education you can get for any teacher on the market since you are being paid while you are learning,” said Matt, reflecting upon his first two years as a language arts assistant. “Being an assistant is an amazing gift because now I truly understand how to teach reading and writing so I can facilitate that in any class, not just language arts.”
Matt began to teach science classes in his third year, while concurrently earning his master’s degree in general education and leadership. Today, he is now in his second year as a lead Manhattan Lower School Science Teacher for Grades 1-4. “With a full schedule of my own classes, I feel like I am still learning and growing so much as a teacher, but I know I am getting better and having fun with it,” said Matt. “The fact that I’m a lead teacher means the world to me, and I feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of my students, like my teachers made in mine.”
Some favorite science lessons include demonstrating dry ice during Halloween and bringing in live specimens, such as butterflies and tadpoles, for students to observe. “[Coordinator of Science] Mr. Lennihan told me that my job as a lower school science teacher is to be a professional mindblower,” said Matt. “My goal is for my students to realize that science and learning can be so much fun and to be motivated for class.”
Matt also encourages his students by sharing with them that he was a Windward student himself. He shows them old yearbook photos as well as a photo of him during a hard hat visit to the Westchester Middle School construction site.
“It is wonderful to see my students realize that their teacher was a student just like them. I hope it shows them that they can accomplish their goals and their futures are bright.”