Teacher of the Week: Melissa Ward

Teacher of the Week: Melissa Ward

Meet MELISSA WARD, a kindergarten teacher at Ruth M. Schneider Elementary School in Farmer City. During math class, you can find the some-years-a-first-grade-teacher and some-years-a-kindergarten-teacher being "silly" with her students — a hallmark of her classrooms.

"We try to be silly as much as we can all day long," she says. "We always like to joke around. During math, I'll pretend I have no idea what is going on, and they'll just have a fit of giggles, and they'll be like, 'You know what is going on' when I keep pretending I don't."

Here's more:

My own first-grade teacher ... was my inspiration into teaching. She did a really good job of personalizing the class to us. We did crafts and stuff that is harder to fit in with today's curriculum. She had two La-Z-Boy recliners, and we all just thought that was so cool.

The way she inspires my teaching today ... is giving students a choice in their learning. There's no way I can put a La-Z-Boy in my room, but they can have a choice. This week, we're learning which is a good spot for them to read a book. There's beach chairs, there's camping chairs, they can lay down — they just have these choices, and it's really powerful.

If you walked into my classroom, you'd see ... everything is bright colors: lime green, hot pink, orange. And lots of baskets. I have lots of bright colors, and everything has a spot. There is a basket or bin for everything. The students learn very quickly where to put things away.

In my free time, I enjoy ... having time at home to read. I drag my husband shopping a lot, poor guy. I hang out with my dog — he's a beagle mix, rescue dog named Lambert. We've always liked small-town life. It's what we're used to and what we like.

I love Halloween because ... a lot of my neighbors are my students I've had over the last few years. My street has always been popular but the kids love to find Mrs. Ward's house and take all the candy. Last year, I had almost 300 kids come.

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