In 1990 BC (Before Children), my husband and I founded an art company specializing in high-grade commercial photography, and pen & ink illustration. I was the illustrator, creating detailed designs by hand. National card companies turned my pieces into greeting cards, stationery, and wrapping paper, and sold them throughout the US. By 1995, I was able to keep up some of the work as a stay-at-home mom, but my priorities shifted to childcare. In 2001, I entered the world of elementary school along with my two children. Beginning as a parent volunteer in the classrooms, I was then elected as Co-President of our PTA. The next year, the principal hired me as a temporary librarian for four hours a week. The following year, I became an educational assistant for eight hours a week; the next year, 16 hours; the year after that, 32 hours. At that point, my principal sat me down and stated that he felt I ought to get my master's degree in teaching. I balked. I was content with my position. I believed I was too old to start something new that would require such a commitment of time, money, and energy. In 2008, budget cuts mandated that many educational assistant positions be cut. I was one of those individuals. Thankfully, my principal was able to place me as a para-educator in our special education department. He sat me down one more time, and asked me, â€œWhere do you see yourself in five years? Will you still be happy even though you wonâ€™t be in charge of your own classroom?â€ I mulled that over for a very long time. I decided to return to graduate school to obtain my degree. I entered an accelerated program in order to complete the work in 18 months. I doubled-up my course load and was able to graduate within a year. For the summer of 2010, I taught kindergarten in a district program where Scott Foresman curriculum was used in hopes of getting struggling students up to benchmark. That fall, my principal hired me to teach kindergarten, and for the first time, I had my very own classroom. It was a thrilling experience. I delved back into my art. I incorporated a great many drawings for wall displays, art lessons, and Work Time Centers. In 2011, my principal asked me to move up to third grade. I was excited to take the challenge. Once again, this afforded me the opportunity to I design more new pieces for my class. I hope that you will find something that works for you and your students. If you don't see anything you like, feel free to ask for something specific. It might just be a piece of work I've been hankering to create.
I run a highly-structured, uncluttered, organized classroom. Each morning, I greet students at the door with a handshake or a hug. Our days begin with a Work Slide posted using the document camera. Slides follow the same pattern each week, so children know exactly what to do to be independent and successful. I use labeled popsicle sticks in order to call on children randomly so that a greater percentage of the class is engaged. The classroom has a low table for those six who want to sit on carpet squares on the floor. There are three classic school tables that seat six each. Seven metal chairs have been replaced by Hokki stools, on which children can wiggle and move while remaining seated. I have a tall table where five children can stand and work, and a standing work station designed for one individual. Each Friday, after our room clean and class meeting, I pull sticks so that students may choose their spot for the upcoming week. I use labeled popsicle sticks in order to call on children randomly so that a greater percentage of the class is engaged. Students use dry erase boards to respond to math questions and practice vocabulary. We take a movement break at least once every twenty minutes. I sing instructions. I don't mind being silly.
The Williams Cup, 1982: "Given annually to a boy who, having been in the Academy four years, has, by his personal qualities, brought distinction to Phillips Exeter." (I was the first girl to receive this award.)
Graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, 1982. Graduate of Amherst College, 1986. MAT Warner Pacific College, 2009.
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