Sunday, November 29, 2015

Acceptance Speech for 2016 Vermont Teacher of the Year Award

Thank you so much Governor Shumlin

 It is truly an honor to stand here with all of you to celebrate education in Vermont.
I would like to extend gratitude to Secretary Holcombe and the State Board of Education for being in Montpelier today and striving to ensure the best educational opportunities for all learners in Vermont.  I also feel appreciation toward the former Teachers and Principals of the Year who have made this process challenging and insightful. Thank you also to Rebecca Plude, coordinator of the State Teacher of the Year program.

 I’m excited to join such a distinguished group of educators who represent the best that the State of Vermont has to offer. I feel humbled to represent teachers from Vermont who come to work each day, in schools like Union Elementary school; to challenge, inspire and motivate students to reach their best potential. Both Ms. Mahar and Mr. Rand exemplify this degree of excellence in their teaching. I feel privileged to be honored with them today.

I am proud to represent the teachers of Montpelier public Schools and the teachers of Vermont. We are excited, enthusiastic, imperfect and compassionate professionals. We are learners, explorers and adventurers. Our profession is exciting, dynamic and fluid.
I feel so very fortunate to be in this profession  which allows collaboration on a daily basis. I am grateful to work here at Union School, with a faculty and staff dedicated to exploring the best and most engaging opportunities for all of our learners. Throughout my career, I have enjoyed colleagues who have worked together to develop engaging lessons, both indoors and out, in order to help students reach their best potential.  I have had the privilege to learn from a myriad of educators as we studied, learned, and practiced our art together. Today I ask each one of you to think about a teacher that has had an impact on you. Someone who has inspired you, challenged you, and maybe even pushed you to become your best self. Let’s take 10 seconds to just think about that teacher. Let’s be quiet for just 10 seconds, and think about a teacher who had an impact on our lives. I’ll keep the time.

Some of you may have been thinking about your teachers right here in this room. Some of you may have recalled a person who showed you love, or trust, or encouraged you to pursue a passion. Some of you may have remembered a teacher that is no longer here. I imagine, you all felt a sense of belonging, as you recalled an impactful teacher in your life.  Your teacher created a safe space for you to learn. Your teacher most likely created a community of learners. Your teacher may have encouraged you to learn together, and may have even helped you to create habits of learning. Your teacher struck a spark within you,  that ignited your passion.

My goal as a teacher has been to ignite that passion in learners, and to see that passion shine brightly. I strive to guide students on a path of self-discovery as they create meaning and make connections.  I encourage students to use a variety of strategies discover and inquire in order to make sense of the world around them. Connecting with nature, and their community, allows learners to develop a sense of place.

As I was thinking about the factors that contributed to being here in front of you today, I realized that it would be challenging to thank each and every person who has had a profound impact on my teaching career.  So many of you have inspired, influenced, supported and prepared me for this profession. I extend heartfelt thanks to all whose paths I have crossed. Thank you for your dedication to students and learning.
 I would like to thank my parents, who are here today. My mom’s wisest teaching advice was to make sure to show extra kindness to those who are extra difficult.  I have carried those words with me since my first years of teaching. My dad instilled the love of inquiry as a tool for learning, keeping learning fun and exciting as we strive to develop and answer questions. I have also carried this sense of wonder with me throughout my career.

I would also like to thank my immediate family: Barry, Hannah and Amy Koch.  This amazing trio has continually supported me. They know about the crazy late August set up weeks, Sunday night lesson planning and report card weekends. They understand the frustrations and joys of classroom life. They cook, they listen, and they support me, so I can support my students. I extend my heartfelt thanks.

Most of all, I would like to thank the students. It is because of you, that we are here. It is because of you, that we smile, lose sleep, laugh and pull out our hair. You inspire us. You are the future.

As Helen Keller said "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."

I accept this honor, together with the teachers at Union School, and all of the teachers in Vermont.
Together we can do so much.

Each and every school year, on the first and last days of school, I sing this song with my students.

Please join us now, as we sing “ The More We Get Together”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cranberry Thanksgiving

We enjoyed this classic story about a family living near a cranberry bog. An adventure ensues as Grandma's secret recipe for cranberry bread nearly gets stolen. Mr. Whiskers saves the day! 
Of course we needed to try out the special recipe. Cooking in first grade is such an adventure. 

We then enjoyed a first grade feast with friends from Mrs. Wrigley's class. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mr. Koch is the Mystery Reader

Mr. Koch came in to read today. The class really enjoyed his rendition of "Elephants Can't Dance"by Mo Willems. 
It was a morning full of smiles.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What an Honor!

Today I was honored to receive the 2016 Vermont Teacher of the Year award.Governor Shumlin presented the award at a wonderful assembly at Union School. I feel so proud to represent the teachers of Vermont.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Mystery Reader

Each Friday we welcome  a mystery reader to our classroom to share a favorite book. It is a big surprise, and we keep it a secret until the reader arrives. Our first reader was Mary Hoyne. Mary worked full time in our classroom last year. It was so exciting to have her visit as mystery reader.

ECO Water Cycle

We learned all about the water cycle and sang a special song which incorporated the words evaporation, condensation, precipitation and runoff. 

We then hiked up to the ridge line at Harrison forest, and followed the path that water takes to the lowest place, the watershed. 

Once we discovered the runoff and smLl stream, we made lead boats and experimented with floating and sinking. 
What a great and wet ECO day!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honoring Veterans

We have been learning about Veterans, and discussing the meaning of the phrase" serve your country". 
A close look at the American flag determined that 13 stripes and 50 stars were represented. Ask your child about those numbers.

It was exciting to wear flags, and to march in the Montpelier Veterans's Day parade. 
Singing" Grand Old Flag" kept everyone busy while marching too!
Spotting real veterans at the round about!

Reading to get cozy after a wet parade.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


We enjoyed learning about pumpkins last week! 
Many thanks to all who sent in pumpkins for exploring. We weighed, measured, described, floated, and even bowled with pumpkins. Some pumpkins were "flinkers", they were floaters that would sink too! many thanks to Jo Jo Timm and Karen Supan for their help with pumpkin Day!!

Is this bigger than my head?
Which is heavier?
Thinking of words to describe pumpkins!
The bowling alley in room 118.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Vermont Song with ASL

Problem Solving

Recently our class has been finding"surprises" as we exit the school at dismissal time. We have cleaned up these dog deposits repeatedly and new piles have been appearing.

Some first graders decided to go ahead and make a sign to help the dog owners.
At class meeting, a suggestion was made to offer bags to dog owners.
With the help of Chris Luce and Todd Kelker(custodial staff), a helpful sign was placed on the school lawn. 
Let's hope that all of this first grade energy and creativity helps raise awareness for dog owners in the neighborhood!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Our Community

We take care of ourselves.
We take care of our friends.
We take care of our community.

This year we will be learning about the community of Montpelier. We will visit sites in town each month, and will focus on the ways that people help each other in our community.
Our October visit to the Montpelier Fire Department was educational and fun! Firefighters discussed fire safety and reminded kids to get low and get out. They asked families to decide on a meeting place once everyone exits the home.
Firefighters demonstrated the use of their gear, and also helped students to become less fearful of the sound of the voices through the oxygen mask.
The field trip included vehicle visits, and a demonstration of the rarely used fire pole!

Junior firefighters were so excited to head back to school, and share all their new knowledge!

Thanks to all of our volunteer chaperones!