Fate has a way of bringing people and places together, sometimes more than once. Such is the case for Laura Pals, now in her seventh year of teaching fourth grade students at her alma mater, Western Hills Elementary School in West Des Moines.
“Western Hills has a special place in my heart. I went here from kindergarten through sixth grade, but I never dreamed I’d teach here,” she says. “I feel connected to the building, the great families and the great staff that has a huge heart for the kids.”
Like her peers, Pals is fully invested in her school and her students. She enjoys teaching fourth grade students because they’re on the verge of becoming independent learners, but they still are enthusiastic about doing good work in hopes of pleasing their parents and teachers.
“They’re eager to learn, they’re curious, and they like me still,” says Pals with a laugh.
Of late, students in Pals’ class have been studying regions of the United States and in particular they have been enjoying learning more about their home state, says their teacher. They’re also practicing double-digit multiplication and division problems for math, studying elements of fiction writing, participating in reading theater activities; and learning about Russia for their social studies assignments.
“For fun, we went to see the Nutcracker ballet, too,” says Pals.
One of the fourth grade teacher’s goals for the end of the year is for students to begin to realize their individual strengths and to further develop them.
“I want them to be more aware of themselves and to find out what things excite them in school,” says Pals. “It’s fun to see them mature. They’re only 10 years old, but they feel like they’re older.
“My favorite part of teaching is seeing them grow as people as they learn responsibility and self control.”