I believe every teacher who dedicates his or her professional life to education is special and deserves respect and gratitude, and I would like to express my deep appreciation for Mrs. Kathy Sather, first-grade teacher at Highland Park Elementary
Wednesday was Wonderful Wednesday in Mrs. Sather’s classroom.
Parents were invited to come to school for lunch and spend the afternoon in the classroom. We split the opportunity with my husband having lunch with them and me spending the afternoon in the classroom. Although, my husband said lunch was great, I think I got the better end of the deal.
I wish I had the words to describe exactly what goes on in her classroom; the best I can come up with is to simply call it love. Mrs. Sather is not just an amazing teacher; she is an amazing human being.
Her students are learning traditional subjects such as spelling, reading and math; but maybe more importantly, they do so in an environment that teaches them about respect, kindness, generosity, wonder and love for self and the entire world.
Mrs. Sather begins each day by individually greeting the children at the classroom door where each child chooses the greeting they wish to receive that day: a hug, a high five, a handshake or a smile.
This happens every single day with every single child. She manages transition from activities and individual distractions and attention, or lack of, using cues and songs and sounds and rhymes and poems. The distracted child (who happened to be my son more than once yesterday) is not singled out or addressed in a way that embarrasses or causes disruption. Rather she has obviously developed a highly effective way of graciously, bringing them back in and keeping them engaged. She is an artist or a magician or it simply is her love for children and learning. Students sit in tables clustered together instead of lined up rows.
They rotate around the classroom which is decorated with positive affirmation and recognition of each student’s achievements and responsibilities.
There is a daily Teacher’s Aide, Technology Aide, and other designations that provide opportunities for these children to serve others and the group as a whole, thus building self-esteem and harmony.
She models and provides opportunity for students to learn the value of listening; with not only their ears, but with their hearts and their entire bodies. Students turn their bodies and face the person who is speaking. If they are to listen to a video or live feed via the Internet, they gather in a circle and face the screen where they can hear and be heard.
Mrs. Sather uses humor and guides her students on how to use humor appropriately. While sharing, one student commented that everyone was talking about “dogs” and that was boring to him. Without missing a beat Mrs. Sather expanded and applied his comment into a fun joke that dissipated any despair among the speakers or the audience.
I honestly had tears well up during closing circle, a ritual that happens every day. One student who serves as the leader begins by stating something the class is grateful for and then they join together to recite their mantra that includes what they are grateful for and how they are to love one another and go out into the world and do their best and to love one another.
What a perfect way to end their time together. She inspires her students to respect and love themselves which inspires them to love and respect others. I am inspired by Mrs. Sather to be a better parent, a better coworker, a better neighbor.
Her students may not learn everything they need to know in life from her first-grade classroom, but they will learn how to learn for the rest of their lives for she truly teaches lessons of love.
(Kevann Campbell lives in Havre.)