By Corinne Wnek
“Teacher Feature” is a biweekly column that offers readers a look into today’s classrooms so they can see some of the innovative teaching that is going on by talented educators right here in our communities.
“I couldn’t be more blessed in my life or in my career,” says kindergarten teacher Katie Migliore. “To come to work every day with a supportive team of teachers and an energetic and creative principal, well, it doesn’t get better than this.”
Ms. Migliore, a graduate of Kean University, has been teaching for 29 years and is certified in pre-school education and kindergarten. “It’s funny, but for as long as I can remember, I always wanted to teach very young children”, she explains. “I think I was influenced by my own kindergarten teacher who made it a joy to come to school. In my class, I try to induce the same joy of learning that I experienced.”
Learning in kindergarten? What happened to art and playtime, I wondered. “We continue to do those things because that is still important,” she assures me. “Way back, kindergarten was half a day and the ‘learning’ was about social skills, like sharing and waiting your turn. Now we have full-day kindergarten.”
I wondered what goes on in the modern kindergarten. “You might be surprised to know that we teach academics today,” says to Ms. Migliore. “Our children are taught how to recognize words, how to write their names, how to count to 100, how to count by 5s and 10s, how to do some basic graphing and how to appreciate technology.”
She goes on to say that “we have a smart board in our classroom that is used for studying current events and learning about science from National Geographic. Did I mention that the kindergarten class also learns Spanish two days a week?”
With so many academics in place, where’s the fun?, I asked.
“We make the learning fun and teach students in an age appropriate way,” says Ms. Migliore. “Sometimes we work in small groups on class projects; we do arts and crafts and tell stories. Our days are productive but we have enthusiastic learners. It’s all about finding the right balance.”
Currently the class is working on a project for an upcoming science fair. “The class will be exploring motion and learning about how things move. We are each going to make ‘rockets’ that are jumping cups. The kids are very excited about this,” she is quick to note.
When she is not teaching, Ms. Migliore enjoys her home at the shore where she is an avid birdwatcher. Other passions include the New York Knicks and Rutgers football. “There is a legacy of Rutgers grads in the family so we are big supporters of that university”, she says smiling.
As I leave the classroom, I ask about a sign that says, ‘Educating the mind, heart and spirit.’ That’s the school motto, I’m told.
“We really aim to do that at St. Agnes, “she says proudly. “We believe that all students have gifts. Some just need to open their packages later than others.”
Hats off to Katie Migiore and her very impressive kindergarten class.
Corinne Wnek believes that teachers, and the administrators and boards of education which support their work, deserve a big, red apple for doing an outstanding job in shaping our most important commodity, the lives of our children. Her weekly column, “The Writer’s Block,” already appears every Friday in the online edition of this publication.
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