First grade is a time of learning that sets the tone for many kids on what their feelings about education are for years to come.
When the kids start the year, teachers hope they know their letters and letter sounds and maybe even sight words or they can read easy sentences. Ellen Buhrow finds the speed of learning incredible and loves taking the journey each year with her students at Perkins Academy.
“What I love about first grade is the growth that they make in reading,” she says. “In first grade, the kids will grow six reading levels by the end of the year, which is more than any other grade. It is awesome to see. I have taught for 16 years, and I am always in awe at the leaps my students make over the year. Several are English Language Learners which is even more impressive.”
Growing up, Buhrow enjoyed school which she believes is what made her want to teach.
“I had amazing teachers as role models, and by the time I got to college, I knew that education was a good fit for me,” she says.
One of her favorite lessons to teach is on goldfish.
“The kids have such big hearts and love taking care of our little class pets,” she says. “They enjoy feeding them and watching them swim around. They will even work quietly so not to scare their little friends.”
The students in Buhrow’s class often find amusement in the simple things. She has an almost 2-year-old son who her class enjoys hearing stories about and seeing what he is learning. They were also quite taken with a class field trip to the Civic Center to see an Eric Carle play.
“This was a new experience for many of the students, and the oohs and awes were priceless,” she says.
Before Buhrow bids this class farewell there are some fun activities planned. There is an annual pajama day that is always a big hit, as well as an outdoor fieldtrip and a unit on planting.
When not working, Buhrow loves spending time with her family.
“My husband, almost-2-year-old and I enjoy spending time with extended family, traveling, reading books, playing basketball and going for walks.”