THis month’s winner: Rachel Jasinski – Madison Camelview Elementary
Nominated by: Hilary O’Brien
What made you decide to become a teacher?
I always loved younger kids. I grew up in Wisconsin and I babysat when I was growing up. I would also help out at volleyball camps. After I graduated from college, I decided to venture out and move to Arizona. I didn’t really know anyone, but I felt like it was an adventure. At first, I worked for the Cartwright School District, and now I’ve been at Madison Camelview teaching kindergarten for three years!
It must have been a strange experience to move to a place where you didn’t know anyone.
It was honestly a little overwhelming having no family or friends nearby. But I’m an outgoing person, so it was pretty exciting. It’s a different world out here than in Wisconsin. It was hard to get used to the heat at first. And the scorpions. But I always loved this area, even when I was teaching in Cartwright. There’s a lot of fun things to do around here.
What makes Madison Camelview a unique place to teach?
What I love about Madison Camelview is how they celebrate each individual child. It was clear right away when I got here that that was a priority for the teachers. I also love the way we try to make school exciting for the kids. We will have assemblies that pump the kids up, and we always try to do things in the classroom that make the students excited about learning.
Talk about what the kindergarteners in your classroom learn during the school year.
A big thing is teaching them how to read. We work on phonics and then they progress to books. Watching them grow in their reading skills is one of my favorite parts of teaching. When they come in, they’re just sounding sounds and by the end of the year, they’re reading texts. It’s always exciting to watch them make those connections. We also emphasize math skills. My classroom has an accelerated math program, so the kids are doing 1st and 2nd grade level math when they are in kindergarten.
How important is the social aspect for students in kindergarten?
Learning social skills is very important for kids at this age. We use strategies to teach kids social skills from the very beginning of the year. They get together in groups and are learning to speak to peers constantly. Developing these skills at an early age is huge.
What’s great about teaching kindergarteners is that they are so new at learning. Some of them are excited about school and some of them are not as excited. But you’re their first experience when it comes to a classroom. You can really mold their minds and help them to have a positive experience with school that they can take with them to the next grade!