I think the standards for the kindergarten students are significantly higher today then a lot of people realize,” says Jody Smith, one of Winterset’s six kindergarten teachers.
“These kids have never not known technology; that’s the biggest shift in change over the years that I’ve seen,” she says. “These 5- and 6-year-olds are a digital generation, whereas most adults are digital immigrants. These little guys already know that phones do much more than ring, and computer screens are windows to knowledge. That just means today’s curriculum has to be even more advanced in technology, like the six iPads we have in the classroom. The kids love them.”
The best part of Smith’s day is seeing how excited and enthusiastic the students are to come to class and learn.
“It makes my job as a teacher all the more challenging and rewarding, and I just love watching them grow,” she says.
Smith, who is from Corning, earned her B.A. in education from Simpson College and is now pursing her master’s through Morningside. For 10 years, she taught kindergarten through second at I-35 Schools, and for the past seven years she has taught kindergarten here in Winterset.
She is married to Kevin Smith, 1986 Winterset alumnus, who is currently head mechanic for the Winterset Community School District. The couple also has two teenage children attending the Winterset schools.
“Life gets pretty busy,” she says. “But each summer we plan a long-distance motorcycle ride, three or four thousand miles on our ’97 Honda Valkyrie. We both love to ride, and now our son is old enough to have his permit so he can ride with us, too. It’s a great way to spend some family time outside of the classroom.”
Smith admits, though, that she is always happy to get back into the classroom with the “kiddos” — a nickname she fondly calls her 19 busy students.
“The days just fly,” she says. “You have to constantly keep moving and keep them engaged in something new. We have some fun field trips to the pumpkin patch and the fire station coming up, and we are so fortunate to have the high school/peer helpers and the community and parent volunteers. The kids especially love to have someone read to them. You should see their faces light up; it’s pretty great.”