Gina Ostrowski, Echo Canyon Elementary
Nominated by Paige Rogers
How long have you been at Echo Canyon?
I have been teaching here for two years. I looped from kindergarten to first grade with my current class. Looping is when a teacher follows their class to the next grade level. Our school loops K-1, 2-3 and 4-5. Each teacher stays with their class for two years. Next year, I will return to kindergarten.
Where else have you taught?
I started my teaching career in Minnesota. I worked in Minneapolis Public Schools teaching 3rd grade.
Why did you choose to teach this grade?
I love the play-based learning and socialization that happens in the younger grades. It is so much fun to incorporate cooperative, hands-on activities into every aspect of the curriculum.
What was your initial feeling when you saw Principal Hughes and the rest of us walk through the door?
I was very surprised when I was told, and I think the kids could tell. The big group hug from the kids summarizes my feelings that day: loved, supported and part of a caring community. It is inspiring to know what a difference we make in the lives of our students and families.
What is your favorite part about being a teacher?
The kids. There is never a dull moment in the life of a teacher, and that is due to the wonderful personalities that walk through my door each morning. We are always on the go: learning, creating, discovering and having fun.
Did you always want to become a teacher?
Yes. My parents have the proof. I wrote a journal entry in elementary school stating that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.
What is the best part about teaching younger grades?
In kindergarten, I saw so many little faces light up as they discovered they could read for the first time. It was a magical feeling for me as well.
Our class had already built such a strong foundation last year that we were ready for first grade on day one. I had built strong connections with the kids, and they had built strong connections and friendships with each other.
What are some unique techniques you use for teaching?
Each morning, I incorporate some aspect of yoga and mindfulness into our routine. We breathe and move while working on our concentration and awareness.
What do you like about the area?
I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin and moved here two years ago. It is beautiful! You can see cacti, palm trees and mountains all in the same view. Our school has wonderful gardens that we use for learning. I find myself walking around our campus just to take in the view and relax.
Favorite inspirational quote?
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn,” Benjamin Franklin.
Students deserve the opportunity to be involved in their learning every day. Those are the experiences they will look back on.