by Kate Evans
Paw Paw Elementary kindergarten teacher Stormie Alverson received the Mary Linn Fox Memorial First Year Teacher Award at the March 21 Morgan County School Board meeting.
Alverson graduated from Glenville State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education K-6. She also achieved an additional certification in Early Education Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten.
Alverson said that teachers she had when she was growing up were compassionate and showed their love to kids. It inspired her to make a difference in others’ lives. Alverson loved kids and wanted to help them be better at what they do.
Alverson said her focus as a teacher is to understand students as people first.
“Students aren’t going to learn well if their needs aren’t met,” she said.
She makes sure their needs are met first in the morning-they may be hungry, tired or just need a hug.
Alverson’s kindergarten class built a leprechaun trap for St. Patrick’s Day. She said the kids put tape all over their desks and yarn and string over the door to help catch a leprechaun. They read books about Ireland and learned about Ireland as a unit.
“Kids really loved it. That’s what makes learning fun,” Alverson said.
They had a Polar Express Day when she first started. The class transformed their desks into a Polar Express train and went on a Polar Express adventure, Alverson said. They also had related math and reading activities.
Alverson did a sight word snowball fight with her students. She wrote sight words like “was”, “my”, “the” and “they” on paper. Kids had to read the sight word, crumple up the paper and throw it in the classroom. Then they had to find another sight word.
“I like to make learning fun as much as possible,” she said.
They’re getting ready to do an Easter Egg Hunt, Easter activities and an Easter party.
Living the dream
Alverson said being a kindergarten teacher her first year was her dream.
“I felt like I was living my dream when I won the award. Knowing that I’m making a difference in my students’ lives each day makes me feel great,” she said.
Her favorite part of being a teacher is seeing the children’s smiles and seeing that light bulb moment when learning finally clicks.
“It makes you proud as a teacher,” she noted.
Alverson said coming to a school where the community is great helped her fit in and made her first year better. Her advice to other first year teachers is to “take it day by day and be flexible.”
The First Year Teacher Award was established in Morgan County in 2001 in memory of Mary Linn Fox, who taught at Pleasant View Elementary for 25 years. Fox was “a champion of children and a nurturer of new teachers” and believed that “each and every child was endowed with the seeds of greatness.”
The award is presented annually to a first year teacher who “instills in students a desire for the joys of learning and is a dedicated, nurturing professional.”
Principal praises Alverson
Paw Paw Schools Principal Melinda Kasekamp said that Alverson graduated on a Saturday, moved on a Sunday and started her job at Paw Paw Elementary that Monday. Before she was on campus, Alverson was meeting with her class through online meetings so the students’ transition from their long-term substitute teacher was seamless.
Kasekamp said Alverson started the week before Christmas break and asked if she could have a “Polar Express Day” in her classroom with the students all wearing pajamas. Kasekamp realized they had found a true educator.
“Polar Express Day was a huge hit and Stormie has exceeded my expectations during every walk-through thus far,” she noted.
Kasekamp was delighted to see a kindergarten spelling test and Alverson’s students writing their names, numbering their pages and writing five words ending in -ed. Kasekamp said she was pleased with the quality of writing samples from Alverson’s classroom. Her students are writing a lot.
Alverson is building relationships with students and also building community ties, Kasekamp said.
“I hear nothing but praise from parents about how lucky we are to have found her. We love her,” Kasekamp said.