I started a board game club

I started a board game club here this year. We are an intramural activity. We get about 20 to 30 kids every other week to play board games. I try to have them play cooperative board games where the students have to come together for a common goal. Games like Pandemic, Legendary Encounters and Freedom: The Underground Railroad. There are also resource management games. I try to bring in games, not like the typical Monopoly, but games like Ticket to Ride, where they use a map of the United States and they have to build trains at a time like the early 20th century. It works out well. Students can come, play a game and ride the student activity buses home. We bring a snack in for them and it’s really fun.

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Lifelong fitness, lifelong service

I’m very involved with Operation Smile. When my daughter, who is now a sophomore at FC, was in first grade we started. We had this running club called Mile Madness and we changed it to Miles for Smiles after talking with others about how we could incorporate Operation Smile. And it just sort of stuck. We’re still doing it.

Our big focus is lifelong fitness, lifelong service. What can you do to be a better person? You may not be the best or the fastest runner but find something that you like to do. Find something that will keep you healthy and that will keep you active. I love teaching health. It’s kind of my passion. It’s great that it carries on with them. I have a former student who is a freshmen at Randolph Macon; she wants to be a doctor. She wrote me the nicest letter about how much I inspired her. When you’re a teacher, sometimes you don’t always get those things. It’s so nice when you have a former student write you and you think, well maybe I did make a difference in their life.

We try and give them the best part of their day, just to know that they’re loved and supported. You love to hear those stories about students and athletes who worked their way up. Somewhere, somebody along the way helped them out. You just kind of hope you can do that.

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Family time

I love spending time with my 2-year-old. Every day we’re coloring or going to the park or something educational. I read a book to him every day. We do Sesame Street every day. He knows what a trapezoid is and a semicircle. He tells me, “Mommy, I know this already.” He’s 2! It’s really funny actually. When I was in the Navy and I couldn’t spend time with him – I had watch in the middle of the night and I couldn’t see him go to bed and I couldn’t see him wake up – that’s what made it hard.

I really want to make sure he has everything that he needs – educationally, spiritually, being supportive of him. My husband is in the Navy, so there are times when he won’t be there. I just want to make sure that when he is home that we get all that family time in, that he doesn’t miss a moment. That’s mostly what I do when I’m not at work because those moments, you can’t get back. You can’t get them back.

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I like challenges

 

I have allergies. I hate them. It’s ruining my life. Last spring, I didn’t have allergies. I didn’t know of it. Sometimes you can get the cough. I got the cough, too. Me and my sister and my dad have the same allergies. My mom doesn’t have an allergy.

What about school? What do you like to do here at school?

The most part I love about school is my teacher.

What do you love about your teacher?

Well, everything! Her favorite animal is an elephant. I just love the way she likes them.

I like learning about coins. I like the quarters the best. It’s challenging. I like the challenging things about school, like tests. I like tests! And we have a test coming up! My favorite thing is my homework, too. Every time I get home, I do my homework.

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I like learning about history

I like learning about American history and World history. My favorite part of history was learning about the different battles of the Civil War, like the Battle of Vicksburg, which was when the Union went to capture the Mississippi River to cut the Confederacy in half basically because it was separated by the river. My other favorite part was learning about the Battle of Yorktown in the Revolutionary War when General Cornwallis surrendered to end the Revolutionary War.

Do you want to study or use history in a future career?

I’m not 100 percent sure what I want to be when I grow up. My dream, as of right now, is to go to MIT. It’s not super far away from Virginia. It’s in Boston, which is a pretty nice place I’ve heard. They offer a lot of majors that I’m kind of interested in, like my favorite subject science. I like learning about different kinds of elements and how they react to other elements. In fourth grade, I actually did the STEM program with some other people and we made a robot. After that I was like: Whoa! This is pretty cool!

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The coolest part of third grade

The coolest part of being in third grade is learning new things. In second grade I would learn about ancient China and things like that, but this year I am learning harder instruction. I’m learning to multiply and to divide, and in second grade I was just learning how to add and subtract. I think one of the other things I like in third grade is music. I’m really into music. My grandmother is teaching me how to play piano, but I’m mostly into singing and cheerleading.

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I like to play soccer and surf

I like to play soccer. I like to surf. I do soccer all year-round and surf all year-round. I’m doing futsal and we’re going against way advanced teams and travel teams that are sponsored, so it’s really tough. Our coach really wanted to expose us to the harder teams so we’ll get better and we can learn from them.

I go surfing every weekend – almost every weekend if I’m not busy or something. It’s really cold. We have a wetsuit, gloves, booties and hats because it gets really cold when you get your head underwater. I started surfing when I was 8, so I’ve just been surfing a lot. I just got a new board for Christmas. It’s a 5’3” board; before I was surfing on a 6’2”. I wanted to move down because it was really hard to duck dive on that one because it was really heavy.

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Technology is the biggest change

 

The most interesting challenge with teaching fourth-graders today is definitely meeting them where they are. I teach an inclusion classroom so they come with a variety needs, and making this a safe place for them where they feel loved and wanted is important. I started teaching 11 years ago and the biggest difference from when I started to now is definitely the technology. The kids are so excited about it. They are so excited to use it every day. Today we used Safari Live. We got to take a virtual field trip to South Africa and see the habitat and all the animals, so it’s easy to incorporate this because they are excited about it. That’s definitely the biggest change.

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I want to change something

I do a little bit of everything, but debate is probably my biggest passion. Coming out of middle school I wasn’t really involved in anything, but I did a program called We the People where you take a portion of the Constitution and you have to defend it and answer questions about it. My social studies teacher pulled me into it, and I won districts and states for middle school. Then I guess I figured out that oratory and debate were my thing. Freshmen year I joined Student Congress and that’s where I got really into politics.

In terms of what I want to do when I get older, I’m kind of polarized in what I like to do because I enjoy science and I enjoy STEM. I like chemistry but honestly, it’s one of those things where I feel like I have an obligation to go into politics. I think that after everything that I’ve learned, at this point, I want to change something from here on out. I want to take money out of politics. Obviously that’s going to be hard, but I think more people have to be represented than they are and I think that would probably be my mission. I want to end up being in D.C. somehow. I know the cost of living is ridiculous so I’m going to have to work my butt off, but that’s what I plan on doing.

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I’m going to Paraguay

I’m going to Paraguay for 10 days in March with Operation Smile. I’m really excited because I’m going to get to meet all the kids, and I’m going to get to play with them and make them feel good before and after their surgeries. I’m going to bring a camera so I can show them what they look like after their surgeries. It’s going to be cool to see how they’ve changed.

Why are you excited about the opportunity?

I think it will be awesome to help others who don’t have as much as we do, and it’s life-changing for them.

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I would love to play with legends

I’ve been going to Creeds ever since kindergarten and it has been a very big journey. The things I love about school are: I love to go to music and I love to go to art. My dad comes to have lunch with me every Monday. He used to come on Fridays to eat lunch with me and now he comes Monday. I just love eating lunch with him. And I get to play on a wonderful basketball team – the North Carolina Creeds. I’ve been playing basketball ever since I was 4 years old.

What would you like to do when you’re older?

It’s between the NBA and the Army. Mostly I want to go to the NBA because I’ve playing basketball for quite a long time. Second of all, I want to play on the Cleveland Cavaliers because they’re my favorite team and LeBron is going to play on it. Then Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith. They’re the best players on the team and I would love to play on a team with legends.

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Taking time for myself

I have a two-year-old. My focus at home is him and then I’ve been trying to work on myself this year – making sure I take time for myself and get into exercise and working out a little bit more. I feel like when I take that time for myself, it makes me better here at school and at home.

And my kids here are great. I really like fifth grade. I taught kindergarten and first grade for about ten years. When Dr. Reese asked me to come over here, she said all she had was fifth grade. I thought: What? Fifth-grade! But I love it. I do. Some of the things are exactly the same – social aspects like friendship issues and kindness things. At the same time, fifth-graders’ level of independence and humor, they’re on a whole other level as far as conversation goes. They get so excited – not that first-graders don’t get excited about things – but it’s different. We’re doing all this work with the American Revolution and they love it. They’re so passionate about what they’ve learned about the Declaration of Independence and Patrick Henry, and I think it ties in so well with what’s happening today. They are seeing our government in action with a new president. It’s a learning experience for me, too, because coming from first-grade to fifth-grade was all new. [With first-graders,] we were talking about how George Washington was the first president. In fifth grade, we’re talking about how the Constitution written in the 1700s applies today. I try to tie it all back to the history as much as I can.

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I love learning

Over the past four years, I’ve experienced a lot in high school – from different classes, my peers, some of the clubs and opportunities. In particular, one that I absolutely adore is Scholastic Bowl. I’ve been involved with it since my freshman year, and for the first time in FC history we’re going to the state tournament! I’m really looking forward to it mainly because it’s an entirely new experience. In my four years the team has gotten progressively better and better and better, and it’s amazing because I get to see how it all plays out. Hard work actually pays off.

Being exposed to all that information and the activities has opened me up to a lot of different interests, and I’ve managed to narrow those down just a bit more. There’s Scholastic Bowl and combine that with – I’m a part of the Foreign Policy Working Group at my school, so we’ve had a chance to go up to D.C. and talk to really amazing people who are changing the world day by day. That’s molded my interest in going into foreign policy. On the flipside of that, and I know they don’t generally have much to do with one another, but I’m also passionate about engineering. It’s just the application of things I learn in physics, things I learn in science and mathematics all coming to fruition. All of that kind of builds who I am. I’m hoping to find that one link between the two that gives me an opportunity to connect them and that way I don’t have to give up either interest. I love learning in general – just exposure to information and being able to share that information with others because there’s no real use in learning something if you can’t pass it on. I don’t really believe in being selfish with knowledge or information.

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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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