Finding the joy in learning

My professional passion is really to help kids find the joy in learning. I did not enjoy school when I was kid – that was one of the reasons I went into education and became a teacher. I had a professor in college and I thought, if I had had teachers like that growing up, imagine how much I would have enjoyed it. I just think school’s gotten so much harder and so much more rigorous. It should be to prepare our kids for tomorrow, but I think one of my main goals is really to get kids talking at the bus stop – “Oh, I can’t wait to get to school! Guess what I’m doing today! Guess what we did yesterday!” – and having them be so excited about being here and learning and seeing what happens next and wanting to grow and learn.

My personal passion is animals, specifically dogs. I’ve always been a dog lover. One of my passions about dogs, which I try to instill in the kids, is giving back to the community. We’ve done projects involving service dogs, whether its police dogs or military dogs. We’ve raised money for protective vests for them. I was able to reach out to this one organization called Spike’s K-9 Fund and the folks there are just fabulous. They’ll come out to the school and they bring some of their dogs. I’ve learned so much through them and sharing with the kids what they do. They’re four-legged furry heroes – just like our servicemen and women are heroes. Living in this community, I think it’s awesome to be able to give back in some way, so we’re able to couple my passion for dogs and giving back to a military community as well.

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Wearing hats and making friends

Wearing hats helped me get used to the school. I wasn’t a kindergartner when I came here. I came in first grade, so pretty much everybody already had friends because everybody had been in kindergarten together. I made friends by jumping in and wearing a new hat that nobody wears. It ended up that I got a lot of friends. Then eventually other people started wearing them.

I’ve always wanted to be an engineer, mostly an army engineer. Like the Hoover Dam, it was made by army engineers, not just a regular car engineer or even a business engineer. And Army engineers sometimes go on missions to other countries and build buildings and storage rooms for countries that don’t have the money to do it. I’ve always liked looking at things and understanding how they work. I’ve worked on a car with my dad before. I’ve helped my cousin change his oil filter. I also love cooking – with my dad especially. We have three dishes that we love. We love to cook salmon and we make our own marinade for that. We do awesome pork ribs, which we smoke those. We also love to smoke a giant brisket.

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I play ice hockey

When I’m not in school I usually like to go ice skating. I used to do figure skating and then I didn’t really like it because it started getting boring, so I started to do ice hockey. I’m in my second year of hockey. It was pretty hard for me to switch from figure skating to hockey because the skates are different. I kept falling forward and backward, but now I’m better. I like the excitement of it – skating down the ice, trying to score and get as many goals as possible and also, the main part of ice hockey, working as a team.

Why is it important to work as a team?

A lot of reasons. I can name a few right now. Like, cooperation – if we pass more, then we have more chances to shoot the puck and score. Sometimes we have games where some people get angry at each other, especially at the other team, and sometimes we get penalties. That’s how our team falls apart and loses games because we weren’t working together.

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I was a student here at Brookwood

I was a student here at Brookwood when I was younger and then I went to Plaza Middle and Ocean Lakes High School. I went to James Madison University and then came back home to student teach. The summer between graduating with my master’s and then trying to get a job I went on six interviews. The last interview was at Brookwood Elementary. I remember being at my nana’s pool with my mom, my nana and my best friend, and we were just kind of hanging out. I got the phone call from HR saying I got the job at Brookwood. I was so excited and jumping up and down. My nana said that it was meant to be because I went to this school and God really wanted me to come back to this school.

When I started setting up my classroom I realized there are people here that I grew up with. Kerry Knighton used to be one of our office staff when I was here and she came down to my room. She said, “Oh my gosh! I recognized your name! I’ve known you since kindergarten!” Adele Perry is still a secretary here. Mrs. Crowe teaches first grade here and she was my first-grade teacher. Mrs. Kerr teaches kindergarten now but she was my third-grade teacher. Brookwood is a place everybody wants to stay. It’s such a welcoming and loving place. It’s fun to listen to kids. I ask them who they had in first grade and they say, “Mrs. Kerr.” And I say, “Me, too!” They’re shocked and say, “You’re old! How were you ever once a kindergartener here?”

The kids make me laugh on a daily basis. They’re so funny! They’re definitely the best part of teaching.

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I want to solve world problems

I wanted to solve world problems and world hunger. There are many different problems. I’m in Girl Scouts and we have packed 50 bags of food and put those in backpacks after school. The reason we put those in backpacks is so no one makes fun of them because some people can be judged by the way they look. They don’t get to eat as often and they don’t get any meals, and they can be judged by different people.

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I want to be president when I grow up

I’ve been doing ballet pretty much my whole life. I am at Twinkle Toes Performing Arts Company. I really like it because my dance teacher is ridiculously silly. The whole studio, we’re like one big giant family because it’s a really small studio. It’s really fun.

Do you want to continue with ballet when you’re older?

I want to be president when I grow up. I want to be in charge of the country. I feel like so much is happening and we could do so much to help, like politically and socially, because there is a lot of bad things. There’s a lot of stealing and robbing going on, and we also have people who are destroying our forests, which we need for trees and food.

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I enjoy bowling

When I’m not at school I enjoy bowling. I’m in a league and I go to certain tournaments. I’ve been bowling for three years. I enjoy it when I get strikes and that satisfaction. But then if I get a lot of strikes, the pressure builds up to keep getting strikes. I also want to get better than my brother. He’s the one who taught me how to bowl. When he was 11, he wasn’t as good as I am at 11. So when I get older, he thinks I might be better than him. Both my brothers bowl. We bowl every Saturday unless there is a holiday or snow. 211 is my highest score. I think I got six strikes that time. At first I was doing bad, and then I got a lot of strikes at the end.

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This is the best job ever

I truly believe I have the best job in the school system. I don’t have to do grades or discipline or plan; I get to go in and help teachers with whatever they need to do. I try to make the teachers’ jobs as easy as I can. I don’t mind doing anything they ask. I do everything from A to Z. I even put time in the cafeteria when we were short last year. If I’m helping, I’m happy. If I can make anybody’s day easier, I want to do that. Teachers have so much to do. Me running their copies or putting their games and things together, I don’t mind. My job is truly the best ever, and we have such a great school. We’re family. We are family – from admin to kindergarten, all the teachers, every staff member. I think once you’re here, even if you do move on, you’re still part of us. This is my seventh year here and hopefully I’ll have many, many more. This is the best job ever.

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I’m a very happy person

I’m a very happy person! Art and singing and my friends around me and my family make me happy. My favorite class in school is art. I’m drawing a person right now. She’s happy but she’s also surprised because she got a big bear. I got a big, big bear for Christmas and I’m drawing the girl that’s surprised. Our teacher said she would teach me how to make a nose because I don’t know how to do that. She teaches us about shading and the family colors as in dark to light. Art makes me feel happy because I can sometimes express my feelings in the art.

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Team Jersey Day

I wore this jersey because I like the 49ers a lot. It’s kind of something in my family because we’re all from California. I also wore it because this is the only jersey I had, for one, and because I couldn’t find my Longhorns T-shirt. This one is my first jersey so I really like it.

I wore a Dallas jersey because my mom was born in Texas, and my mom’s side and my dad’s side are both Cowboys fans – except for my grandpa; he’s a Redskins fan. When we watch the Cowboys-Redskins games, he always goes against my grandma. I’m a Dallas fan. A die-hard, live-for Dallas fan. I support my team when they go through hard times and rough times and the good times.

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I earned two Grit Beads

I earned two Grit Beads.

What is grit?

Grit is not listening to what other people say about you. Just move along with it. Those things are not true about you. Never listen to somebody who doesn’t know about you. You should stand up for yourself. You should never give up. You should always try your best and always stay awesome.

My first grit bead was for when I was showing my journal and these two boys were laughing at me, but I just moved along with it. I didn’t care what they said. I just moved along. And then my teacher gave me a little project, I said it lightened up my day. My teacher wanted me to go tell Ms. Conger and she was really proud of me.

The second one was after a really hard test. It was about math. It was really difficult. I got 89 percent correct. I stuck with it. I didn’t give up. I thought and I had grit. I was brave. I was confident. I had courage that I would never give up.

And then Miss Robin, she is a custodian and she cleans up a lot of stuff when everybody is gone; she did the same thing like me. She never gave up. She showed grit. She had a lot of people absent but she did her job so everybody would like the school how it is.

I told her, “Me and you are Grit Sisters!”

I see her every day after school and I always say, “Hey, Grit Sister!”

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I’m a school psychologist

What inspires me? I was just walking down the hall and looking at the kids in the classroom. Just seeing how excited they were and knowing the role that I play here to keep the excitement going. That’s what inspires me. I’m a school psychologist. That means that I am responsible for the mental health issues in the school division as well as making sure that the educational program is the best for each child.

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