If you have been lucky enough to have Mrs. Caitlin Baker as one of your teachers, you will have noticed her expressive personality, always accompanied with a big smile and a contagious laugh.
Mrs. Baker is known for being a supportive teacher, and for having a great relationship with her students. Even though it is only her second year working at Mason, she has already gained the staff and students’ affection.
Mrs. Baker started working as a co-teacher in English classes this school year. She teaches freshmen and sophomores while working alongside English teachers Mr. Brian Walsh, Mrs. Karin Tooze, and Mrs. Suzanne Dana. Mrs. Baker is also a special education teacher.
When I asked Mrs. Baker what motivates her the most to work, she answered right away.
“Every day, coming and seeing you all happy and trying to do your best and making progress, motivates me to make progress,” Mrs. Baker said. “Because if you all are working hard, then I want to work harder to help you all.”
Baker loves to help others. Throughout the interview, she repeatedly emphasized that she enjoys working with and helping her students. She’s aware that many sophomores that struggle with the level of difficulty of Mr. Walsh’s assignments claim that they don’t know what they would do without her, not only as a teacher, but as a supportive friend.
“It makes me feel really proud that I can help, and that I’m here for a reason,” Mrs. Baker said, referring to this usual comment, “but it also makes me kind of sad because I worry about other classes, like I’m not there so I can’t help that much, but it does give me a warm feeling, it makes me realize that I’m actually helping and making a difference.”
Mrs. Baker grew up in Virginia Beach and went to Virginia Tech. Then she got her masters at George Mason University. When she first graduated from college, she really didn’t know what she wanted to do, so she took a year off from school, and started to take classes online to become a speech pathologist. Though after a few classes, she realize she did not wanted to do speech.
In the end, Mrs. Baker went back to school for higher education to work at a college and applied for George Mason University, although she couldn’t secure it so she came to the other George Mason: our high school.
She has always wanted to be a teacher and work with students. “I realize it when I played teacher when I was little. I always wanted to be the teacher in the group,” she said. That idea became stronger when she finally started working at Mason.
Something that drew my attention to Mrs. Baker was the balance of personalities that she and Mr. Walsh have, and how she keeps her essence alive, even when working with a person who shares different ideas.
“She is supportive, responsible, great with kids. She’s patient with them, she’s patient with me,” Mr. Walsh said when he was asked about his experience working with her. “She has a good sense of humor, and she’s really helpful in every way possible.”
Working with Mr. Walsh was challenging for her at first, since both of them have different teaching styles; Mr. Walsh likes to do things spontaneously, while Mrs. Baker is more organized, but she believes that he has been helpful for her.
“Because it’s been challenging, it’s been really beneficial to me. I’ve been able to see what it’s like to work with someone that’s very different from me, so, in a sense, I’ve been able to acclimate to that. In the past, I’ve never really wanted to be a much of a giver to change,” Mrs. Baker said.
She also admits that, at the beginning of the year, she was not accustomed to how the class worked, but now she thinks that they have developed a really good working relationship, and that they can read each other really well.
“He’s really good at getting the kids to really buckle down and do their work, and I’m really good at making kids feel that it’s okay if you’re struggling, and you can come to me for help,” she said. “So, I think we found a really good balance. I would like to say that we have come a long way since the beginning of the year.”
Not only is she an amazing teacher, but Mrs. Baker is also a friend. A word that suits her perfectly is empathic; she has a fantastic understanding with kids, and would always find a solution for any problem. She’s very patient with you if you’re struggling in class, and gives great advice. Having her at Mason has been very beneficial for everyone, from students to teachers.
It’s fun to have both her and Mr. Walsh in class and see how it develops. It’s not uncommon for Mr. Walsh to say no to an idea and for Mrs. Baker to say yes to the same thing, and vice versa, which mostly causes the class to be divided into sides, supporting one teacher or the other.
“I thinks it’s pretty funny that he’s like the really strict parent and I’m the cool parent, and even you guys have noticed that, like ‘if I want to get away with something I ask Mrs. Baker, if I don’t want to get away with something I ask Mr. Walsh,’” she said.
Among some stories that Mrs. Baker considers funny in class, she commented that Mr. Walsh’s phone ringer is his dog barking, and he wouldn’t know how to turn in off when it goes off. Also, he forgot his shoes one day, so he had to wear bowling shoes.
She said that they pick on each other a lot, and that’s what makes the class dynamic. “He’s a pretty funny person, it’s never a dull moment with Mr. Walsh,” she said.
Mrs. Baker is a very important component for the class and Mr. Walsh enjoys working with her. “It’s been a pleasure having her as a teacher, and getting to know her as a friend. I hope I get to work with her next year too,” he said.
When asked about how would she describe her life in the present, she said that it is busy and very profitable. “Everything that I do, I think, in some part, I’m helping people, that’s what I wanted to do on my life, to help others.”
She’s married and lives with her husband and her dog, Kona. And when she’s not teaching English, she teaches a fitness class called Pure Barre.
What she likes the most about working is the relationships she has built with teachers and students, and states that students motivate her the most. “I love the teachers that I work with and the friends that I’ve made.”
Although she has spent little time at Mason, she has already become indispensable for students and teachers. She has turned into a hero in class, and like any hero, she will continue helping others and being an inspiration for everyone.