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Blog: Teacher Spotlight on Mary Beth Gries

For Mary Beth Gries, the technology teacher at Mastery Pickett campus, the reason she chose to work for Mastery Charter Schools is the same reason she stays.

“When I first took the tour of the Pickett and saw and heard what was going on, I knew Mastery was a good fit for me. Their values and approach to teaching reflected what I wanted to do and be part of,” she said. “Their mission is about serving the students, about putting them first.”

Gries came to Mastery when she graduated from Temple University where she attained a Bachelors Degree in Secondary Education and English. She’s still a student at Temple where she’s currently working on attaining her Masters in School Leadership with a concentration in Curriculum Supervision.

As the technology teacher she said she not only teaches her students computer skills but also provides support in other areas. She said teaching technology isn’t just about being tech savvy but also about imparting real world skills that the students can use when they graduate from high school.

“When I was at Temple, I knew I wanted to teach in Philadelphia. I applied all over but it was Mastery that reached out to me,” she said. “Mastery is about having grit and working together as a team. We’re supportive of each other. My first year was rocky, but that’s true for most people who enter the field of education. Once I got my footing, I knew Philadelphia and being at the Pickett campus was where I wanted to stay. Yes, some days are more challenging that others – but what’s different about being a Mastery teacher is everyone is willing to jump in if there’s a problem. The administration values our opinions; they value us and our ideas. They’re always asking; ‘How are things going? Do you need help with something?’ The administration is very supportive.

Gries said one aspect of working for Mastery that she really likes is the willingness to try new approaches to teaching. She said she’s seen that perspective grow in the five years she’s been at Pickett. Mastery gives its teachers and administrators the flexibility and opportunity to use their own initiatives and pilot ideas.

“One of the things I’ve seen grow since my first year teaching is Mastery trying to find creative ways to advance education and the success of its students,” Gries said. “If something isn’t working – it’s back to the drawing board. If something does work, the perspective is ‘Can we use this at our other schools? This is something we can run with.’”

In elaborating on what keeps her at Mastery, Gries said it’s seeing the kids grow and seeing herself improve as a person.

“My very first students are now in the eleventh grade and I’ve seen them grow and advance as human beings,” she said. “Mastery is well known, people in the community know who we are. They push me to be a better and more self-reflective person. One of the things I’ve learned as a teacher is that the most effective leaders aren’t necessarily the people in the top positions of power. That’s why I love teaching. In my class I know I’m making a difference. I know I’m doing the most amount of good.”