At any time in the second grade classroom of Anne Parenza at Monroe Elementary, one could see students excited to learn. In her sixth year at the school Parenza has instilled in her students the importance of curiosity. Following in her dad’s footsteps, (a teacher for 34 years) Parenza always knew what she wanted to do with her life.
“I like working with children between the ages of 7 and 9,” she says. “They are like sponges — they soak up the entire learning environment in the classroom. I love teaching science, especially our insect unit. We purchase caterpillars and watch them turn into butterflies. The kids go crazy when the butterfly comes out of its chrysalis.”
Something else Parenza enjoys is the diversity of students at her school and the great staff.
“Teachers do make a difference,” she says. “I remember as a kid, my second grade teacher, Mrs. Manthe, had an old claw-foot tub in the classroom. We would take turns reading in it. You always felt special reading in the old tub. I want to instill a love of reading and learning in each of my students.”
Parenza suggests parents read to kids to help them appreciate the power of books. She always recommends books by Patricia Polacco.
“I love her books because she writes wonderful stories about her family” Parenza says. “I always tell parents of first graders to have their children practice addition and subtraction with flash cards. This is the foundation that we will build upon in second grade.”
An exciting thing her class is doing this year is heading to the Historical Building at the end of the month for an opera about the Three Little Pigs.
“Many of my students have never had the experience of an opera,” she says.
When she’s not teaching, Parenza is working on her master’s degree and raising her three children.
“I enjoy watching them play sports and competitive dance,” she says. “I also enjoy spending my free time at my cabin in southern Iowa where we have a large garden in the summer.”