Dawn Myers, kindergarten teacher at Oviatt Elementary, knew she wanted to be a teacher from an early age. “My dad made a big chalkboard and hung it up in our basement. My sisters and I played school for hours on end. Because I was the youngest, I usually had to be a student, which drove me to want to teach even more.”
She graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education. Her love of teaching and working with young children inspired her to return to school to earn an early childhood endorsement. “I strive to provide a caring environment where the children feel safe to explore, take risks, and make mistakes.”
Kindergarten stands out to Myers in a unique way. “I think kindergarten is the year you see the most growth in the shortest amount of time. The kids are like sponges.”
She also points out that kindergarten has changed significantly. “When I first started teaching kindergarten, it was a half day program where students learned their alphabet and numbers, had a snack, and rested. Now children come in with a wide range of experiences and abilities.”
According to Myers, many students come into kindergarten already knowing letters and sounds, and some are even reading. “We take them where they are and continue to build on the skills they have. By the end of kindergarten, the children are reading books, writing stories, and are adding and subtracting.” Promoting social, emotional, and academic growth in students is important to Myers. “Children live up to our expectations.”
Myers also sets goals with fellow teachers. Through the Teacher Leadership & Compensation grant awarded to the district this year, Myers serves as the professional learning community kindergarten lead teacher. “It has been very rewarding to collaborate with this great team of teachers and administrators as we focus on student learning,” she says.
The team has collaborated this year to identify standards and methods for assessing growth. Assessment is used to help teachers find interventions aimed at helping students who might be showing deficiencies in specific areas as well as those who need more of a challenge. “Norwalk is a great place to work,” says Myers. “All staff and administration are so supportive, and everyone has the student’s best interest as their focus. The parents I work with are wonderful! It truly takes a team effort!”
Quotes from students – what they like about Dawn Myers’ class: