Vegas Golden Knights February 2022 Teacher of the Month
Walter Johnson Junior High School Academy of International Studies
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Suzanne Gudjonis and I currently teach seventh and eighth grade Computer Science and Robotics at Walter Johnson Junior School Academy of International Studies. While this is my first year at the middle school level I have over 20 years of experience in education, with the majority at the elementary level. I have taught Art/Music, varying grade levels, and technology during that time. I am originally from the Chicago suburbs and moved to Las Vegas 16 years ago with my husband of 25 years and our three children (now 22, 18, and 17). We decided to move to leave behind the harsh winters of Illinois. When I am not teaching I am usually watching hockey, watching movies with my family, or taking additional courses to keep current in technology in education. I first decided to become a teacher when I was in elementary school. I had an AMAZING Social Studies teacher and knew that I wanted to follow in her footsteps with the creative ways she engaged us in learning. From that point on I followed my dream to become a teacher. The one thing I love most about teaching is when students have that “AHA” moment on a concept. Something that the class has been working on and practicing and then all of sudden they understand it with the biggest smile and enthusiasm to go forward and tackle the next challenge. This makes me smile and remember the reason I wanted to be a teacher in the first place. I am involved in the local community by assisting with our school robotics team and volunteering with my own kids’ activities in Scouting. Both of these activities have given me the opportunity to see students in varying activities and help them to solve problems they encounter to achieve their goals.
Who is your favorite NHL® player and why?
Deryk Engelland is one of my favorite NHL players. From the moment he stepped on the ice in 2017 and gave the inspirational speech that launched our Knights into the NHL, I knew that he was the right person for our city. Along with being a great player, team leader, and family man I appreciate the time and commitment he has to the community even now that he has retired. He has shown that you can be a great athlete and make money doing what you love while still being a role model to those that follow your career.
What is your favorite part of the Future Goals™program? How do you see STEM in the game of hockey?
My favorite part of the Future Goals program is that it brings the curriculum to life with an idea that most students can get on board and enjoy learning. There is the game to conquer while learning or reviewing the concepts that they are engaged with each day. Rather than sit through a lecture or review notes, students are provided with a fun and exciting way to reinforce their current curricula knowledge. I see STEM in the game of hockey as a way to showcase to students that the topics of science, engineering, technology, and math are in the real world and not only in business or big companies. Students often view the ideas of STEM as school orientated only or for those businesses that the connection is easily made. Students need to see that STEM is everywhere and can be connected to the simplest or most challenging aspects they encounter. Hockey is one way to get students excited about the concepts of STEM and the game.
If you played hockey, what position would you play and why?
If I played hockey I would want to play defense. The defensemen work together in order to help out their goalie when it matters most…stopping the other team from scoring. I would want to be a part of that dynamic and know that I had a hand in helping my team protect our goal and status of the team.