Molly Fleskes

2021 Amazing Educators - Sherwood Gazette

School: Sherwood Charter School
Why she is amazing: Fleskes holds students to high academic standards despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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TEACHER LOOKS FORWARD TO 'AH-HA' MOMENTS

As a youth, Molly Fleskes was so interested in teaching that she wanted to play the role of teacher in her neighborhood.

Currently, Fleskes is her second year as a third-grade teacher at Sherwood Charter School. “The Sherwood Charter School is known as the school of choice,” Fleskes said. “It’s a very small community and it’s amazing.”

Fleskes continued, “What we really try to do is tie everything into a big theme and think of the big picture — we really try to tie all of our curriculum into that theme. That kind of guides our year.” Sherwood Charter School includes students in kindergarten through eighth grade with just one teacher per grade level.

“The kids are in a cohort, so they stick with the same group of kids every year, which just builds the most awesome community,” Fleskes said. “They feel so safe and loved.”

One of the school’s goals is to provide a challenging environment for students.

“We have a challenging curriculum,” Fleskes said. “We’re definitely holding our students to high standards and providing a lot of hands-on curriculum. I think one thing that makes the school stand out is trying to make everything hands-on.”

Subjects at the school include science, social studies, writing, reading and math. “We do a good mix of those throughout the week,” she said.

Fleskes — who missed part of this year on maternity leave — has always wanted to get into teaching. “When I was a kid, I loved my teachers,” Fleskes said. “I had the most amazing elementary teachers that I looked up to. They really provided a sense of safety to me growing up – I just adored them.” Recalling her childhood, Fleskes said, “I was always the kid kind of forcing the neighborhood friends to be my students and I was the teacher.”

Fleskes attended Oregon State University and studied media communications, then got into marketing for a while after graduation.

“It was really fun and was a good creative outlet for me, but after five years of that, I just was not feeling fulfilled,” she said, adding, “It was a few years after I lost my mom to cancer (and) I just realized, ‘Wow. Life was way too short to continue doing something that just doesn’t put a smile on my face.’”

Around 2016, Fleskes went back to school to get her master’s degree in teaching. “I just decided it was time to follow my passion, so that’s what I did,” Fleskes said. Fast-forward to Sherwood, Fleskes said, “I didn’t know anything about Sherwood — I took a sub position at Sherwood Charter School and that was my first experience in Sherwood and that’s when I fell in love with the charter school.”

Still, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed Fleskes’ routine. Currently, “We are all virtual,” Fleskes said. “I teach from a classroom and the students are all at home. They have Chromebooks that are provided by the school.”

Fleskes is looking forward to returning to teaching after maternity leave, offering the following description of her third-graders.

“They’re very independent, but still so sweet and eager to learn, and not afraid to make mistakes and challenge themselves,” she said.

Fleskes said, “Teaching is a crazy career, there are so many things involved. Being with the kids and seeing their ‘ah ha’ moments, and working with them, is clearly the absolute best part. The pandemic made it a little hard when that was removed.”

Reflecting on her pandemic routine, Fleskes said, “Those kids just are everything. Seeing their faces on our morning Google meet is amazing – you see them and they just say the funniest things. It makes it all worth it no matter how much work teaching really is. It’s more work than I ever thought a career would be, but they make it worth it, for sure.”