South Plainfield Public Schools
Edison, NJ, USA
Field: Literacy and Reading Education
Being the oldest grandchild in her family, Christine B. Warian realized her love of children early in life. Since childhood, she has experienced pure joy in seeing the “light bulb” moment in the eyes of someone she was teaching, which spurred on her interest in education. Having been an average student herself, Miss Warian empathizes with students who struggle, and strives to help them figure out the meaning of words and improve their reading comprehension. She is currently a reading specialist for South Plainfield Public Schools, where she works with children in kindergarten through fourth grade. Additionally, Miss Warian serves as an adjunct professor at Raritan Valley Community College.
With 16 years of experience in education, Miss Warian advises students: “always do your best, and it is all right to take risks and make mistakes.” She believes wholeheartedly that it is by making mistakes and accepting them that people learn and grow. Miss Warian never wants her students to take life too seriously and finds satisfaction when she sees that they are enjoying learning.
Throughout her career, Miss Warian has been blessed with several rewards, but she considers being asked to give lectures at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, to teachers from Jeollabuk-Do, Korea, to be the greatest honor. During the summer months of 2001, 2002 and 2003, she spoke about literacy programs in public education, as well as classroom management skills. In order to remain current with topics of interest in the field of education, Miss Warian retains memberships with NJIDA, the National Education Association, the International Reading Association, and The International Dyslexia Association. She also supports Susan G. Komen for the Cure, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the PKD Foundation.
Miss Warian holds a Master of Arts in Reading Specialization from Kean University. She is pursuing an Ed.D. and plans to teach at the collegiate level in the near future.
Conversation with Christine B. Warian
Worldwide Publishing: On what topic(s) do you consider yourself to be an expert?
Christine B. Warian: Literacy and dyslexia.
What characteristics help to separate you from other reading teachers?
My need to be up-to-date on aspects of the field, and trying to be more hands on when teaching reading instead of using papers and books all the time. I stay fresh in the field by attending workshops and conferences.
What motivates you?
Just to know that I am giving children another tool in their reading kit to unlock the mysteries of reading and an opportunity to grow in their reading skills. Also, sharing my knowledge of reading and teaching with up and coming teachers.
What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field for the past 18 years?
I have learned that you need to be flexible, and open to collaborate with colleagues and try new methods of teaching. Also, don’t take life so seriously.
What short-term and long-term career goals are you currently pursuing?
My long-term goal is to complete my doctorate in education, and I want to eventually work on the collegiate level or in a supervisory position.
How do you plan to achieve these goals?
I am currently a doctoral student at Northcentral University and will be teaching two college courses at Raritan Valley Community College.
What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?
While getting my master’s degree, I took the risk of going to school full time while working as a substitute teacher. Now I’m balancing full-time teaching, part-time teaching, and doctoral studies.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
The biggest issue is the budget cuts. With budget cuts, the number of teachers is reduced while the number of students in the classrooms increases. This creates a challenge for teachers to have differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all students.
What are some questions that an individual interested in your services can ask to ensure a more productive relationship?
One of the questions that I get from my students is what area should they focus on? Should they just study general education, or should they have a secondary major? If I want to become a reading specialist, what do I need to keep in mind?
Did you ever consider pursuing a different career path or another profession? If yes, how did you end up working in your current field?
I originally started as a music major with a focus on music education and music therapy. I then switched to general education since I felt I would be able to give more to my students.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
The most rewarding aspects are when the children finally have an “ah-ha” moment, or when they become more fluent in their reading skills. Also, receiving compliments from parents or colleagues. On the collegiate level, I enjoy sharing my knowledge of reading and teaching with up and coming teachers.
What is your favorite or least favorite work-related task to do and why?
My favorite task is executing my lesson plans and being able to come up with an idea off the cuff. Teaching is an art form. My least favorite part is being a test coordinator since I need to give up teaching my students for a week. Another favorite task is sharing ideas with colleagues and trying new ways to teach reading concepts.
What advice can you offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in your industry?
I encourage students looking to become a reading teacher to work in general education for at least five years so that they can become more familiar with literacy education. For new teachers discouraged with what is happening in education, I suggest they start out as a longtime substitute to get themselves known in the district.
Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?
I had a third-grade teacher who influenced me. She had a different way of teaching than the other teachers I had before. She was more understanding. At the collegiate level, there is a colleague who I had worked with very closely the first year who helped me acclimate to the college level.
What changes have you observed in your industry/field since you started?
There is more technology today than when I started and it’s a challenge to incorporate it into everyday lessons. Also, children are raised in different environments than they were 17 years ago. There are single-parent homes, homes with two working parents, or children who might not have the same support as others.
How do you see these changes affecting the future of your industry?
I can see it affecting the collegiate level by having more online classes instead of in the classroom. There might be more virtual classes. In addition, on an elementary level, I can see more use of laptops in classrooms for assessments and power point presentations.