Teacher of the Month, Ms. Rich at Morgan Elementary School

Teacher of the Month: Rich foundation for students is vital

Nick Gosnell, Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — For Allen Samuels CDJR Teacher of the Month, Morgan Elementary kindergarten teacher Celestia Rich, building the foundation for further learning is important to her.

"You really get the chance to teach them everything that you don't really have to do in second grade or first grade, even," Rich said. "We start at the very basics, like, this is how we sit at the carpet and this is how we listen. I think that was a big adjustment, just starting at the foundation things that they need, so that their first and second grade teacher can take them and use those skills."

There can be a large variance in what kids know when they come to kindergarten.

"You have kids who start out knowing all their letter names and sounds and kids who have never learned how to sit on the carpet before," Rich said. "The first, I would say, nine weeks, I think we're still in it. You are praising those kids who can do it. Those kids that can do it, I usually ask them to help model, like, oh, can you show so and so how to sit nicely at the carpet? I have kids who maybe had a really rough preschool year who came to me and I think, just the routine and the structure and just the explicit modeling of this is how we sit, this is how we listen, this is how we talk to each other, I really think, over and over and over, eventually, it kicks in."

The other thing about kindergarten is that they haven't been to school in a COVID year, except for a handful of three-year old preschoolers that would now be six, so things can go somewhat back to normal for them.

"They don't know what that meant," Rich said. "They didn't know what Zoom school was, or those apps we had to get on. It is kind of refreshing. Kindergarten teachers get that luxury of getting that first wave of kids."

She was nominated by Megan Baughman for her calm and patience in the classroom. Rich is also expecting her first child and says that the kids are excited for her and want to help her where they can.

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