Prestwood ohana – How I became a better teacher
As the end of the school year nears, I feel that my first year teaching at Prestwood Elementary School would not have been as successful as it was without the amazing assistance of my colleagues, in addition to the informative teacher trainings I attended throughout the school year.
Last August was a hectic month for me. I was hired a few days before school started to teach the special education class (special day) at Prestwood. I knew I was going to be OK when Nancy Haber, a fabulous first-grade teacher, helped me set up my classroom before the first day of school (when I’m sure she had a million things to do). She offered tips and suggestions on how to create an environment for students to succeed and feel comfortable. Nancy was a pro, she taught special education a few years back and assured me that I would love teaching at Prestwood. She was right.
Once hired, and as part of my teacher training, I attended a seminar to learn about various curricula: national geographic, language arts, inside. This training was very effective and gave me insight into different approaches to teaching students language arts. After that training, I also attended a very meaningful seminar about responsive classrooms, and I have used some techniques from the training to help create a positive and engaging classroom.
Lynn Ruebush, my amazing mentor through the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program (BTSA), was key in mentoring me and helping me through a major part of this year. Lynn was fundamental in offering her professional development suggestions for me. She visited my classroom, gave me teaching advice, complimented many aspects of my teaching and classroom set up and was there for me on many levels.
Karen Taggesell, the fabulous RSP (Resource Specialist Program) instructor at Prestwood, helped me learn how to administer some specific academic tests and took time with me after school to make sure I felt confident with the testing procedures. I felt great after Karen’s help and very appreciative.
Gwen Watson, a phenomenal third-grade teacher at Prestwood, shared a special Hanukkah lesson with me, that I taught and that the students loved. Also, Gwen and many other teachers have let me know that they are nearby if I ever need assistance or help.
Suzanne Bolli, my fantastic aide, has assisted me every single day on many different levels and has truly been key in helping our classroom be as successful as it has been.
The entire staff at Prestwood was welcoming, supportive and friendly, and have all trained me – one way or another – throughout the school year.
Teaching is very challenging, especially teaching at a new school with new faces, new procedures, new everything. As a new teacher at Prestwood, I feel that I met the challenge, but not alone.
In Hawaii, where I used to live and teach, the word for family is ohana. I feel that the Sonoma Valley Unified School District, and especially Prestwood Elementary School, has treated me like ohana and for that I am a better teacher, and forever grateful.