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Take Five with Sheila Wong-Gracia: Teacher at Healy Elementary

31 May 2024

Mrs. Wong-Gracia prioritizes open-mindedness and strives to teach her students adaptability.

Sheila Wong-Gracia

Take Five is a series that highlights some of the many members of the CPS community who are going above and beyond for our schools. If you know someone who is making a difference, nominate them to be featured here.

This week, we’re excited to spotlight Sheila Wong-Gracia, a middle school math and English Language Arts (ELA) teacher at Robert Healy Elementary School. Mrs. Wong-Gracia is in her 26th year of teaching at Healy, and she is truly rooted in the community: the neighborhood is where she herself grew up, and where her family remains. 

As an educator, Mrs. Wong-Gracia prioritizes open-mindedness and strives to teach her students adaptability. She has modeled these values in her own life—although she started as an ELA teacher only, she decided to go back to school when a colleague recognized that she would be great at teaching math as well! She encourages students to share their own ideas, and is always willing to try new things. Learn more about Mrs. Wong-Gracia below!

What do you love most about your work?

I love the daily, real-life interaction with students. As a teacher, you get to grow with your students and watch them learn, and that’s what has kept me going over the years!

What is the biggest lesson you hope your students learn in your class?

I want them to keep moving, keep thinking, and keep learning as much as they can. I don’t want them to get stuck in a single mindset—it’s important to stay flexible and keep an open mind. Even if you think you have absolutely no clue how to solve a problem, start with whatever you do know, and take it one step at a time.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year of teaching?

Don't sweat the small stuff. I remember being so worried before my first report card pick-up about making sure my entire classroom was in perfect condition, that all of my posters were perfectly hung on the walls, and so on. In reality, other people barely notice things like that. Instead, try to keep things in perspective: what are the truly important things you need to focus on that will matter in the long run?

What are some of your goals for these last few days of the school year?

I want to make sure my students are confident heading into their next chapters, especially my students who are taking the Algebra Exit Exam. Although teachers and parents can encourage and support students, we can’t make them do anything—the confidence has to come from the students themselves. So I am going to do everything I can to set them up for success, and hope that they can take the next step, work hard, and believe in themselves.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?

I have a lot of hobbies, especially sewing, knitting, and crocheting. And of course, resting is very important too!

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