Morgan Wooten Teacher of the Week

Eastlawn Elementary School kindergarten teacher Morgan Wooten’s theme for the year is ‘Sprinkle Kindness,’ which involves her students earning a doughnut party by performing 10 acts of kindness.

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As a kid, Morgan Wooten was never in doubt that she wanted to teach when she grew up.

The first year of her career last year at Eastlawn Elementary School in Rantoul, of course, was nothing like anything she envisioned. She didn’t necessarily view that as a negative, though.

“Being a first-year teacher, I felt like I had an advantage to all of the changes because I didn’t know any different,” she said.

Now in her second year, Wooten is adjusting to a much more typical school day, and she’s doing just fine.

“She has done an outstanding job loving on our kids, meeting their needs academically, socially and emotionally,” Principal Chris Forman said. “She is a team player and has helped shape our (kindergarten) program from an academically-focused program to a more play-based program, which is just what our kids need. Her positive attitude, bright eyes and smile bring brightness to our day.”

I find my work important because ... kids need to come to school not only to learn but also to feel safe and loved. Especially when working with kindergartners, it is important to help them fulfill those basic needs before we can begin any teaching. The work I do is important because I am helping shape those little humans into the best versions of themselves. Our theme this year is “Sprinkle Kindness.” We are learning the importance of being kind to one another no matter what!

I became a teacher because ... It’s always been a dream of mine. One of my students said to me the other day, “What did you dream you could be when you grew up?” I said, “A teacher,” and he said, “But you are a teacher!” And I said, “Exactly! My dream came true!” I have always loved working with kids and knew that teaching was my passion from a very young age. You can ask my parents how many times I played “school” in my childhood.

My favorite/most unique lesson that I teach is ... So far, my favorite lesson was reading the book “The Jelly Donut Difference” and having the kids respond to a prompt telling me how they can be kind to others. Their responses were amazing, and I heard a lot of, “sharing donuts with my friends!”

My most fulfilling moment on the job was ... Hearing “I love you, Mrs. Wooten.” That’s when you know you’ve really made a difference in a child’s life.

Something else I’m passionate about is ... family. We are never guaranteed a day on this earth, so spending as much time as possible with the ones we love is important.

My favorite teacher and subject to study in school was ... My kindergarten teacher, Ms. Lazan, at Christ the King School in Chicago. My favorite subjects were science and writing.

I engage students during this strange time with ... DOUGHNUTS! Our theme this year is all things doughnuts. We have learned to sprinkle kindness, and when I catch an act of kindness during the day, the kids get a “doughnut.” Ten “doughnuts” will earn the class a doughnut party! I also use this as an incentive for good procedures at school. These kiddos have never been to a normal school during this strange time. It’s going to take some time getting used to our full school day. The doughnuts definitely help!

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be ... A stay-at-home mom. I love my kiddos at home, too!

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