Eye on ECCS: Victoria Elementary

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NOTE: Each week throughout the school year, we will visit a school across Eastern Carver County Schools. Some weeks the plan may be to stop in multiple classrooms by grade, or by subject. Other weeks it may highlight a certain specialist group. The purpose is to give families and our community a glimpse into the every-day learning environment happening in our buildings. A chance to spotlight the incredible work our teachers and staff do on a daily basis for our students, and to showcase the incredible work our students produce as well. So, keep your Eye on ECCS!

 

The average child asks 200 to 300 questions a day. If an elementary school kindergarten teacher has 20 or so students, they are asked a minimum of 4,000 questions a day … 4,000!

 

Yet, these were the words of Victoria Elementary kindergarten teacher Sybil Druce.

 

“When I wake up in the morning, I just feel so lucky to come here and be with these kids each day.” If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work at all, right?

 

Spending time with Mrs. Druce, it’s apparent she means what she says, even in a challenging environment like kindergarten.  When kindergarten students arrive at Victoria Elementary at the start of the school year, for some it may be their first classroom experience. They are in the beginning stages of learning social skills, school rules and new routines.

 

By day number 59 (Wednesday, Dec. 7), the expectation level of each student has increased. When a guest arrives in the classroom, the students welcome them in unison with a greeting. They all understand where their spot on the rug is, and what to do when the teacher is reading.

 

They remind themselves with a song that begins …

 

“Eyes are watching. Ears are listening. Body is still …”

 

Mrs. Druce refers to a book from the beginning of the school year in which the students felt unknown to their peers.

 

“Are we strangers anymore?” Mrs. Druce said.

 

“No, we’re all friends now,” said one girl.

 

“School is an amazing place to be. Friends are here to be with you,” said a boy.

 

The story is similar across the five kindergarten classrooms in Victoria. Students in Chelsie Zens’ classroom are working on their passport book. Today is the country Laos in southeast Asia. The class is learning about how other cultures celebrate different holidays. They learn about the Hmong New Year.

 

Next door in Christine Olsen’s class, the students are in language arts rotations. While some students are practicing independent reading and writing stories, others are at a table with the teacher in a small group.

 

These students are working on sounding out high-frequency words. Ms. Olsen asks the students how many sounds, or syllables, they hear.

 

As recess and lunch approach, Janae Porthan’s class heads to their lockers to grab their winter gear. Some get dressed among the masses, but she applauds the few that chose to bring their gear back into the classroom where there are less distractions. Mrs. Porthan mentions the winter-gear process has become less of an adventure as December has rolled on. Of course, there are a few stragglers as the class heads across the school to the playground where a fresh coat of snow and bright sunshine await them.

 

The day is chilly, but most kids do not despair. They run around and make lots of noise until the whistle blows and they must line up for lunch.

 

Finding an open seat with a bunch of boys from Dawn Dammann’s class, questions soon appear. “Have you ever been to a Chicago Bears game? I was born in Chicago.” “Are you a teacher?” “Do you know that my mom likes quiche?” One-by-one, some two-at-a-time, thoughts are shared out loud.

 

While some things have changed, a crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a carton of chocolate milk, and kids complaining about having to eat broccoli still remain.

 

Year-by-year, each student will grow, but they’ll look back at kindergarten and realize how important that time was. The connections they make, the learning they will build on in future years, all of this is the foundation for the years to come. Truly, this is “the Laker Way!” ”

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