As kids, most of us played the game of following each other’s footsteps in the snow so it looked like only one person walked through on the path.
That is sort of the concept Perry Elementary School teacher Katie Hardy used as she pursued her teaching career. Hardy’s mother was a teacher, as was her grandfather.
“My mom was a special education teacher, and my grandpa was a teacher, principal and superintendent,” says Hardy. “I also had another grandparent who was on the school board.
“I used to help Mom out whenever I could, and I saw how each of them cared about their students and school and how important it was to pass on knowledge. It influenced me greatly.”
Hardy grew up in Forest City and earned her degree in early childhood education from Iowa State University. She has taught in Perry for five years — one year as a special education teacher and the other four as second grade instructor, which is her current assignment.
“What I like about teaching second graders is that they are at that age where they are just becoming independent, but they are young enough that they are eager and excited about coming to school,” she says.
Her teaching style goes back to the way she saw her mother approach teaching and work ethic
“She worked hard at teaching,” Hardy says. “She spent a lot of time outside school hours to improve her teaching skills and different ways that she could teach a lesson to reach the students.
“She also tried to be a good role model to the students — a positive role model. I try to do the same. If the students see me excited about learning, they are excited about learning.”
There is another thing that Hardy’s teaching style has in common with her mother.
“She was structured in her teaching,” says Hardy. “I run my classroom a lot like Mom. The students seem to thrive with structure. I am not so structured that it stifles the student’s creativity, however.”
Hardy uses the latest technology and teaching methods to get her lessons across to her students. However, she said there is one thing that is most helpful to get her students to understand what she is trying to teach.
“I try to relate what I am trying to teach them to real life,” she says. “I try to put it all in perspective.”
She also believes in hands on-activities, being interactive and having the students work in groups.
“Working and learning in a group is very essential,” says Hardy. “The students not only learn the lesson, but they also learn important life skills such as the importance of working as a team to reach a goal and listening to others.”
Hardy said teaching is not just about academics, but molding the students to become productive citizens as well.
“Education changes from year to year, as do effective teaching methods,” says Hardy. “As instructors, we need to be willing to change, be open minded and flexible in the way we present our lessons to the students. What works for one group, may not work with another group the next year.”