THis month’s winner: June Kraynik, Villa Montessori
Nominated by: Patty Mathes
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m a military brat. I was born in Anaheim and have lived everywhere else. West Coast, East Coast, Midwest. I lived in German for four and a half years. I eventually ended up at UCLA and got my undergraduate degree in Geography. I just loved it, I felt like it covered every subject I was interested in.
I worked in the corporate world for ten years before going to ASU to get my Master’s in Elementary Education. My son had just been born and I wanted to be able to have a schedule where I could spend time with him. It turns out that I had a gift for teaching that I had never realized. I can’t tell a joke to save my life, but I can tell stories to kids!
There are some unique aspects about teaching at Villa Montessori. What about that do you enjoy?
Well the classrooms are multi-aged, which means that each student gets the same teacher for three years. That really gives you the opportunity to develop a relationship with the student, their parents and family. You get to know the child, their style. Some kids are allergic to Mondays, so I won’t push them till Tuesdays. You get to know the kids over the course of time.
I think there’s a lot of advantages to the multi-aged classroom. The older kids learn how to step in and be leaders with the younger ones. It also gives you a lot of flexibility in helping kids learn. If you have a child who is just brilliant and needs to be pushed, you can run them with the older kids. If there’s an older student who is still working on a certain subject, you can give them lessons on their level with the younger kids and it doesn’t stand out. There isn’t a stigma.
It must be difficult to watch your third graders go after having them for so long.
When we do the graduation ceremonies, I tell the kids that I’m going to be doing it really fast so I don’t cry. One great thing though is that the older student classrooms are just across the field next to my classroom, so the kids will come back and visit. Especially when the year starts, the 4th graders will come back a lot and tell me how much they miss me. But then they get used to it!
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love that every day is a brand-new day. The kids are going 50 directions at once, and staying on top of them can be a challenge. But I tell parents, I come to school to play all day. I really do work, but it feels like playing all day. I remember working in the corporate world, staring at the clock and saying, how can it only be 10:30? Here I’ll look at the clock and I can’t believe it is already three in the afternoon. The day just flies instead of dragging. I’ve found my calling in this and just love it.
Winning teachers receive Arcadia News gift items, a gift certificate for Elements Massage-Phoenix Arcadia and a gift certificate to Postino.
All winners are invited to an end of school year celebratory luncheon. Nominate a teacher you love at arcadianews.com.