By Brad Smith
Lincoln County Schools
The role of a kindergarten teacher is very important in building the educational foundation necessary for a student’s academic success. A kindergarten teacher fulfills many roles throughout a day, navigating through many activities and developing personalities.
To properly maintain structure in the classroom, a kindergarten teacher needs a good assistant. And according to Houstonville Elementary School Principal Jeff Craiger, he has the best.
“Our four kindergarten teachers and their assistants form extremely efficient, caring and selfless teams. Our Kindergarten students are so lucky to have such dedicated and passionate adults watching over them and directing their learning,” said Craiger.
Houstonville currently has four kindergarten classes. They are taught by Ms. Amanda Foster (assistant Laken Grider), Ms. Jennifer Malone (assistant Anita Crowe), Ms. Ella Schuler (assistant Shelia McCoy) and Ms. Amanda Richardson (assistant Amy Cooper).
The four kindergarten teachers have a combined 69 years of teaching experience, and all but Ms. Malone have spent their entire careers in Hustonville. Ms. Malone joined the staff this year, coming from McKinney Elementary. “This year’s transition, combining Mckinney and Hustonville, gave me the opportunity to work with new people and learn from them. Hustonville Elementary is really good, everyone seems to work well together and care about each other and the students.”
Ms. Foster, a 17-year veteran at Hustonville Elementary, echoed the same. She said the transition to the McKinney and Hustonville merger went smoothly. The four teachers spoke about the quality of the learning environment at Hustonville Elementary and how they loved meeting new staff and new students this year and growing the Hustonville Elementary family.
Ms Schuler added: ‘Hustonville is my home and as a student my mom and I always joked that I taught kindergarten at Hustonville Elementary with her there where I grew up. It was a dream that I never thought would come true. The dream has come true for Ms. Schuler and she is in her 10th year teaching kindergarten at HES with her mother as a teaching assistant. Ms Schuler added that having Ms Shelia in her class is like having two teachers in the room and Ms Shelia also teaches a math group in the class four days a week.
Ms. Malone talked about the importance of having her assistant in class with her. “Anita works closely with me and the students every day. She helps in small groups, helps with assessments, processes paperwork and helps communicate with parents. »
Ms. Foster and Ms. Richardson have first-year assistants helping them this year, and both agreed that their assistants were much more than that, “Mrs. Laken is another teacher in the class, and I couldn’t do it without her. Kindergarten children can be very needy and we spend a lot of time tending to their needs. Having two people in the classroom is essential to meet the needs of the students and the needs of the class,” Ms Foster said.
Ms Richardson commented on her assistant Amy Cooper: “She’s my teammate and she’s ready to help me with anything that needs to be done. She ties shoes, wipes away tears, gives hugs and praise when needed too. Our students love her, she is always there to ask them about their days and listen to their stories. It has a huge impact on their lives.
Another way teaching assistants help out in kindergarten is with social media and technology. Mrs. Schuler (and Mrs. Shelia) started a private Facebook group page a few years ago and said it was amazing for parent/guardian communication. “It helps me build a relationship with parents and makes them feel like they are part of their child’s learning experience. We often post videos on the page to help them practice their skills and learn at home too. »
Ms Richardson also has a private group Facebook page and says it is a primary source of information for her class. “We do live videos (which only people on the page can see) for fun events, daily pics, etc. If I forget to send something home, or really want something be seen, I just take a picture and post it on our group page. It’s a big hit with parents.”
Ms. Foster and Ms. Malone also spoke about the impact of technology on their lessons with the use of Chromebooks. Students learn to use technology from an early age. “We really focused on iReady this semester and encouraged the kids to set goals and achieve them,” Ms Foster said. “Our students are growing up in a society that thrives on technology and we try to provide them with opportunities to learn and explore it.”
Mr Craiger said of an outside observer that it would be difficult to determine who is the teacher and who is the assistant in our kindergarten rooms. “They work so well together and focus on the kids. It begins on day one at Kindergarten Camp each summer and continues throughout the school year. I appreciate the willingness of everyone at Hustonville to work together in the best interests of our students and there is no better place to see this demonstrated on a daily basis than in our kindergarten classrooms.
Brad Smith is the Public Relations and Communications Coordinator for the Lincoln County School System.