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The Magic of First Grade

Here I am with one of my "first grade" students, Rebecca Viagran.

Every school year ends up being my "new favorite"...whether I have taught first grade, or college students, or parents, or 6th graders. My adventures as a teacher started when I was just a kid, "playing school" with my siblings. I did not go to kindergarten, so I burst in the door in first grade excited and happy to be in school. I was jealous of my older sister, with her books and flash cards and homework. ( I know, I am weird!)

Learning to read opened up a whole new world for me. When I got to first grade, I didn't even know the alphabet, but by the second half of the year, I was reading at 3rd grade level and checking out every book the library would let me take home. It was a magical year. By the end of the year, my teacher had me helping other kids with their work. I became a tutor at age 6!

Helping others discover the joy of learning has always been my passion. I have taught elementary, middle school and college courses and loved them all. But there will always be a special place in my heart for first grade.

Helping children on the magical transformation from barely knowing the alphabet to becoming "readers" is a special journey. I run in to a lot of my former first grade students, and I am proud to be part of their journey of lifelong learning.

When I see my city council representative, Rebecca Viagran, my mind goes back to when she was in my reading class at St. Leo's... to the days when I called her "Becca" and I had a role in helping her master reading and writing. When I see her speaking at the city council meeting, or at a news conference, I listen with a special sense of pride: my little first grader, all grown up!

My role as a teacher now, working with parents, is also magical. Helping parents grow to be the most supportive and most important teachers their child will ever have is a new kind of magic. There are so many areas of life where we are all first graders, back at the beginning. If we can approach those opportunities with hope, learning will happen. Sometimes we start the process kicking and screaming, but as long as we do not give up, and we find some supportive teachers along the way, we will make it!

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