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Kirsten Williams – Indian Hills Elementary

Kirsten Williams is enthusiastic, happy, and excited about learning! She passes this excitement on to her Kindergarten students who are anxiously watching her to see what school is all about. Each day I walk my son to school and watch as the bell rings and the kids line up by the outside door. Out walks Ms. Kirsten with a huge smile on her face as she says something like, “Hello class! I’m thrilled to see you all today!!!!” She is kind and caring and teaches the children by example. She leads the children inside and they line up by the classroom door. Ms. Kirsten greets each child individually by shaking their hand and addressing them personally. If the child isn’t looking at her, she gently reminds them, “Look at me right here in the eyes!” while speaking to them. She takes the time to teach them interpersonal skills and confidence. If a child looks discouraged or down in any way, she is quick to drop down to her knees and talks to them at their level. I have watched my own son develop the ability to greet an adult in a confident and polite way from this important exercise he goes through each day. The children then go into the room and follow a routine they have been taught while Ms. Kirsten greets the other children. It is the perfect start to their day at school.

The classroom is a warm, inviting, structured environment. There is a huge cozy chair for reading. The big rug is covered in large dots for each child to sit on during activities. Each detail has been carefully planned to ensure the best learning environment for the kids. There are pictures of the children printed and hung in several places. The homework that is sent home is gathered from several different sites and books are always different, and it’s obvious it has been hand chosen for the class. She works to create ‘active learning’ rather than giving worksheets and busy work. The kids come home occasionally with special stuffed animals that accompany books to encourage reading at home. Sometimes they are asked to fill a ‘mystery bag’ with five items starting with a particular letter. These fun and different assignments keep my son delighted, engaged, and earnest. Occasionally Ms. Kirsten will send home a sheet giving details on what my child is proficient at, things he is still working on, and ideas for working with him at home. Ms. Kirsten also keeps a blog sharing many of the activities the students participate in and posts photos of different events. She is the perfect balance between being organized and effective, and kind and caring.

I recently attended a parent teacher conference for my son. I have 6 children and have attended many of these conferences. We discussed many of the standard scores and items that are generally discussed. As the meeting went on, I was so impressed as I heard Ms. Kirsten list several details about my son’s progress and learning from memory. She mentioned that he occasionally writes his 5 backwards, he is still learning his hexagon, and other specific detailed items from my child’s time in her classroom. I am amazed that she has spent enough individual time with my child to know exactly what his strengths and weaknesses are. We even discussed in detail his preference for visual learning versus verbal instructions. I left the conference knowing exactly how my son is doing, what he needs to work on, and most importantly that he has a teacher who cares immensely for him.

I am so grateful that my child is starting out his education with such a positive experience. Although he is young, I believe his experience with Ms. Kirsten will shape how he learns and his enthusiasm and excitement for attending school. She is incredible!

–Natalie Fredrick