At the end of the day, many want to leave work at work.
Not Chris Berry.
The kindergarten teacher can’t seem to get her job and students off her mind.
“I think about teaching when I’m not teaching,” says Berry, who teaches at Walnut Hills Elementary in Urbandale. “I think about my students when I’m not with them. I love the puzzle of it — trying to figure out what’s best for each of them. I’m passionate about that — meeting the needs of each student in my classroom.”
Sometimes, she says, she wonders if being a teacher is “just who I am.”
“I’m happiest when I’m teaching,” says Berry.
This is her fifth year teaching kindergarten at Walnut Hills, and her 20th in the Waukee Community School District. She previously taught middle school and second grade and has also been a reading specialist.
She’s always wanted to teach elementary school, and is enjoying the unique role she has in these young students’ educational careers.
“I think the thing that I like the most about kindergarten is that they come and I’m their first experience with school,” Berry says. Not only does she teach them the academics, but everything from how to negotiate being in school, to working as a team and being a good friend.
She also appreciates this age group’s sense of humor.
“They’re so funny,” Berry says. “They’re so open and honest.”
According to Berry, what’s been most surprising in working with this grade level is how much students can do and how independent they can be.
The kids help one another with tasks like tying their shoes and making sure they don’t lose their hats and gloves, she says. They’ve also learned how to pick the best book for themselves.
Berry grew up in Waukee. The district provided her with a great education, Berry says, and now her own three children are experiencing the same.
She’s happy that she’s able to work in the school district where she grew up.
“I feel really proud of that, and a sense of giving back to the district that gave so much to me,” she says.