Grade 4 Teacher
Chair of the English department, Mr. Sionas appreciates Graland’s professional development support and the ability to inform important matters that keep instruction forward-thinking. Did you know he plays the jazz vibraphone?
Impacting Students I like to start the year in social studies with a lesson on geography and maps. Using a short clip from The West Wing, we learn about different projections of maps and how these projections impact our view, literally, of the world. The hope is that it encourages students to rethink the most basic of assumptions about what they know, to set the stage for our work throughout the year. It raises questions of inequity and perspective-taking that informs our work in all areas of the classroom throughout the year.
Lifelong Learner I traveled to Harvard Graduate School of Education for a workshop on Culturally Responsive Instruction especially as it relates to literacy. It is helping transform how I am thinking about curriculum from a department standpoint -- book choices, integration across the curriculum, and classroom instructional practices. It's also given me ideas for a few immediate, concrete steps to make some changes in our curriculum for next year.
Professional Passion Research and inquiry; developing critical thinking in the early years; helping spark voracious reading habits in all students; sharing professional materials and ideas with colleagues; bringing the world into the classroom in hopes of spurring student agency and passion for creating a better world.
Favorite Teaching Moment Watching fourth graders muster maturity and responsibility I did not know they had during Kindergarten buddy activities.
Book I Can Read Over and Over El Deafo by Cece Bell is a graphic novel/memoir that opens up a new genre with incredible literary elements to parents (students already know graphic novels are so incredible). It helps students who do not always feel like incredibly successful readers have strengths in their ability to draw insights from the book. There are also powerful themes of inclusion, self-discovery, and acceptance.
Outside the Classroom I’m ... Cooking with my wife; playing pickup soccer in City Park; on my bike; visiting with my nephew and family; enjoying the overwhelmingness of NYC for a few weeks each winter and summer.
Life Goal Ski in Japan; start a school
Other than Graland, I Support A number of journalism institutions to keep them reporting about governments and speaking truth to power.
Joined Graland in... 2015
Also Known As ... English Department Chair; Literacy PLC Member; SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity Member, Diversity Cohort Member; Literacy Curriculum Review Task Force Member; Science Hiring Committee Member; Boettcher Mentor
Hometown Boulder, CO
Education BA in government, Wesleyan University MA in childhood education (K-6), Bank Street
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.