Teacher of the Week: Amy Martin

Teacher of the Week: Amy Martin

Meet AMY MARTIN, a preschool teacher at Rantoul's Head Start, whose signature move is going above and beyond with her classroom decor. This year, she custom-built a barn — in keeping with the class's farm theme — in one corner of her room. So what if it sets her back a few bucks: "I don't make a lot of money, but I have had a parent thank me,'"she says, "and that's really all I'd ever ask."

What's unique about me as an educator is ... I have fun with pets. I grew up on a farm, and I can bring in quite a bit of animals. I had a potbelly pig named Charlie — I gave her to a friend after she ate through my drywall five times — and we have a water frog named Gaga. We're going to get a hamster, too.

For last year's classroom design ... we did an ocean theme, and I built an ocean scene for that, too. It's just me — I take it to the next level, and I do it for the kids. Some of them are low-income, and I want to be able to do as much for them as I can.

You might not believe that ... growing up, I hated school. Then I used to work at a day care. I draw a lot on how I felt about school when I teach — especially now that I have three kids of my own. One is 16, one is 12 and one is 2. Whoops.

My favorite summertime activity is ... camping with my family all summer.

The school supply I can't live without is ... a hot-glue gun. For building and when we do crafts.

As far as my favorite tactic for getting students to pay attention ... I like to make them say "hips and lips on all our trips" so they're quiet in the halls, or I turn off the lights and have them put their heads down.

When it comes to my favorite unit to teach ... I usually let the kids pick. If we see something we've been talking about, we can just open up a new door in the conversation.

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