My oldest son is getting ready to graduate Kindergarten. And he has been loving it. Much of that credit needs to go to his teacher, Ms. Curtis, at Arcado Elementary School in Lilburn, GA...
The class that he is in is a 'multi-age' class that includes Kindergartners and First Graders. It is called a CLE class, or Continuous Learning Environment. And for my son, it has been a marvelous experience. Each Kindergartner is paired up with a First Grader. They work as a team, with the First Grader mentoring the Kindergarten student.
Ms. Curtis has said that because half of the students were in the same class the previous year (the Kindergarten student complete First Grade in the same class), they are able to teach the new students how everything in the class works... and it really works... It is like chaos crossed with military precision. All of the kids know their roles, and while they might be all over the place during play time, when Ms. Curtis quietly calls them to order, they all go where they should be, and do whatever is scheduled to come next...
But the format of the CLE class is only part of it... Ms. Curtis is just a great teacher. She really cares for the kids, and each time we have been there, we have seen previous students rushing over to say hi to her... and we have spent a lot of time in the class. Which brings us to another reason that we have enjoyed having Ms. Curtis as a teacher. Garrett's younger brother has been welcomed in the class with open arms... and there are several younger siblings that have visited the class and received the same welcome.
In fact, at activities like Arcado Night at local restaurants, Jackson rushes to see Ms. Curtis. And she is always eager to see him too. He is looking forward to Kindergarten so that he can be in Ms. Curtis' class... just like his big brother.
Communications have been excellent as well. And one of the things we look forward to as a family is the regular 'photo-shows' Ms. Curtis produces for the parents. She shoots a lot of pictures in class and they are assembled in photo-shows. Garrett loves pointing out all of his classmates and telling us everything that happened (oddly, he doesn't remember all of that 'stuff' when we try to talk about it during dinner ;^ ). The photo-shows and newsletters help to keep us connected between our visits to the class.
But results are where it counts in scholastic performance. And Garrett is excelling in class. Despite not quite being done with Kindergarten (there are a few more days of class), he is almost at the levels required to complete First Grade in reading and math. And he loves going to school. He loves reading and working on his math problems. He loves taking the tests on his reading and math studies.
To me, THAT is the measure of a teacher. Ms. Curtis is not just providing the tools and knowledge to allow my child to learn, she is helping to instill the desire to learn (I think he gets some of it at home, too... ;^ )
One of the things that makes me very happy... Garrett will be with Ms. Curtis next year as well. Instead of being the 'co-Pilot', and learning from his partner, he will be a 'Pilot' and helping a new Kindergartner learn the ropes.
Arcado ranks quite well in comparison to other Gwinnett County Elementary Schools. Gwinnett County has one of the best schools systems in the state... Ms. Curtis is in good company.