April 18, 2019. The meeting featured Stephanie Hicks who showed us what she did with the $1,000 award from last year's Ritchey J. Ricci Teacher of the Year Award. Stephanie is a kindergarten teacher at Wilson Elementary School. A 23-year teaching veteran, she remembers when the current kindergarten curriculum would not be presented until first grade. The ability to read is one of the most basic components of learning. Her students arrive with a wide variety of experience. Approximately 98% of the students can read basic words by the end of the year.
Stephanie strongly believes that the act of writing can help tie all of the elements of reading together. The room walls are filled with words and pictures. The students learn to recognize words and sounds. Eventually, they are able to put together sentences. Writing allows each student to practice at their own level. They work on assignments such as informational texts, lists, and narrative stories. Another program teaches them how to express their opinions. Stephanie read excerpts from some of the books produced by her students. The books are titled "All About_________ ". The students fill in the blank with the name of an animal. The next few pages describe the animal, its habitat, and what it eats. The information about the animals includes colorful illustrations made by the students. Seeing their work displayed in a book form gives the students a sense of pride and ownership. Stephanie believes that this style of learning will leave the students with a lasting love of reading and writing.
She used the Award money to purchase supplies such as clipboards, journals, markers, colored pencils, and containers for the tools.