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Prairie City News

New faces teaching PCM students

Name: Katie Platts

Position at PCM: High school math teacher

Education: Bachelor’s in mathematics from Simpson College

What attracted you to PCM to teach? I was excited to apply for the position because the posting said they were looking for a geometry teacher, and geometry is my favorite subject.

What is your favorite teaching method, how do you like to interact with the kids? I like giving students many different ways to interact with the curriculum. I want my students to be able to say they heard it, they saw it, they tried it themselves and were able to manipulate the materials in some way.

What is a valuable lesson you have learned about teaching? It is important to meet the student where they are and help them get where they need to go. Every student is different, and what works for one student, won’t work for every student and that is OK.

What are you most excited for this school year? I am excited to meet all my students and have a great year.

Name: Jay Stookesberry

Position at PCM: General music teacher at Prairie City Elementary, instrumental music at Monroe Elementary

Education: University of Northern Iowa

What attracted you to PCM to teach? Growing up in a similar setting in a small community and small school district, I believe I’m going to feel right at home with PCM. Also, the district is a big supporter of the music program.

What is your favorite teaching method, how do you like to interact with the kids? With music, it’s always a hands on learning experience because that is what music is all about. Everyone participates in singing, dancing and playing instruments and I get to play along, too. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?

What is a valuable lesson you have learned about teaching? Never underestimate a student’s potential to learn. Students tend to surprise you on how much they can grasp.

What are you most excited for this school year? Since I am a first year teacher, I’m excited to get to know the students, teachers, parents and make music.

Name: Darlene Hess

Position at PCM: Middle school ELA teacher

Education: Bachelor of arts from Eureka College in Eureka, Ill.

Work History: I served as an ELA teacher for the past five years at Tonica Grand School in Tonica, Ill. Prior to becoming a middle school teacher, I was Tonica Grade School’s art teacher and media center specialist for three years.

What attracted you to PCM to teach? The past year my husband’s position for Pioneer had our family relocating from Illinois to Iowa. I found myself leaving a middle school position and school I had grown to love over the past 10 or so years. I made it my mission to find a school that has that same small town community feel in addition to a dedicated faculty and staff who are willing to advance and improve themselves for the sake of their students. I believe the PCM does just that. I am eager to find my place in their mission for success.

What is your favorite teaching method, how do you like to interact with the kids? Ultimately, I believe students who are educated by a teacher with a true passion for their subject and learning will in return be more engaged themselves. My goal as an instructor is to teach in a way that allows the students to ultimately control the session and their learning. One technique that is used daily in my classroom is “design thinking” which is based on resolving real life situations through brainstorming, group discussion and the sharing of creative ideas. In doing this, students learn how to express their ideas and accept those of others in a constructive and structured way. Learning to do so is a tool that is even more useful outside of the classroom.

What is a valuable lesson you have learned about teaching? Throughout my teaching experience I have learned many valuable lessons. One is remaining positive and flexible is a mandatory teaching characteristic. Teachers are those who often have a plan A, B, C and even sometimes D. It is important to keep in mind things don’t always work the way we’d like them to, but finding a teaching moment in any lesson gone wrong or schedule gone awry is key in managing class success.

What are you most excited for this school year? I am most excited about getting to know and interact with the students at PCM. Middle schoolers are at an age where they are truly coming into their own and discovering who they are meant to be. Between sixth and eighth grade these students undergo a huge transformation academically, creatively and socially. I enjoy seeing it all come together and knowing that I may have had a small part to play in it.

Name: Zoey Sternquist

Position at PCM: Family and consumer sciences teacher, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America sponsor

Education: Bachelors in family and consumer sciences education and studies at Iowa State University

What attracted you to PCM to teach? A lot. It’s relatively close to home and my interactions before told me that students are number one and then I knew that I was joining a great team.

What is your favorite teaching method, how do you like to interact with the kids? My teaching method is project-based learning which I think lends itself well in FCS.

What is a valuable lesson you have learned about teaching? You have to connect and form relationships first with students for them to truly learn and do their best. It’s not just given.

What are you most excited for this school year? I’m excited to start the club related to FCS called FCCLA for students. Also, I am excited to meet all the students, their families and learn more about this awesome community I’m joining.

Name: Jenny Morrett

Position at PCM: High school art teacher

Education: Central College

What attracted you to PCM to teach? When I student taught at PCM, I instantly felt at home and I loved the atmosphere of a smaller school. The students and staff are wonderful and very welcoming. Additionally, I enjoy how PCM implements Multi-Tiered System of Supports because it has shown to be very beneficial to students who are struggling in school. It is evident that PCM cares very deeply about the future of its students.

What is your favorite teaching method, how do you like to interact with the kids? My favorite teaching method is simply building relationships with the students. I believe that taking the time to build relationships pays for itself in the end. If the students know they are cared for and respected, they will be less hesitant to explore new things in class and put their heart and soul into their work. My favorite way to interact with students is with one-on-one conversation. Being an art teacher allows me to spend time talking with each student because class time is primarily spent working on projects. When I am talking individually with students, I am able to give advice, get to know their style and preferences and help them achieve their goals.

What is a valuable lesson you have learned about teaching? I have realized that I will ever stop learning. There is always room for growth and I will continue to learn how to be a better teacher and become more experienced in my content.

What are you most excited for this school year? I have a lot of projects I think the students will really enjoy that will both enhance their skills and allow them to have fun. I love watching students run with project ideas because I can see so much of their personality in their work.

Name: Austin Heims

Position at PCM: High school band director

Education: B.A. in music education from Central College; currently working toward my master of the arts in music education from the University of Florida

Work History: The 2018-19 school year will be my third year of teaching. I have spent the last two years teaching in the Storm Lake Community School District.

What attracted you to PCM to teach? PCM has a great reputation when it comes to its music department. With plenty of success in the past, but room to grow, it was the perfect school for me to come to.

What is your favorite teaching method, how do you like to interact with the kids? My favorite way to teach my students is to ask them questions. The questions I ask students requires them to think deeper and expand their thought process. I challenge my students to really understand why we do what we do and why it matters.

What is a valuable lesson you have learned about teaching? It is never too late to learn.

What are you most excited for this school year? The opportunity to work with the students at PCM and create something we can all be proud of.

Name: Kelsey Van Veen

Position at PCM: Fourth grade teacher at Monroe Elementary

Education: Simpson College

What attracted you to PCM to teach? I have always talked about coming back and teaching at PCM, since I grew up in Monroe. I love the small community and hometown feel of PCM and the timing worked out perfectly to make that happen.

What is your favorite teaching method, how do you like to interact with the kids? My favorite teaching method would be inquery based learning and collaborative learning. I like to be able to have different hands on activities students are interacting with, with both myself and with other students.

What is a valuable lesson you have learned about teaching? During my student teaching, I learned just how important it is to be flexible with many aspects of teaching; whether that be lesson plans or activities that are happening. Just to know that something might not go the way you had planned and to be OK with that, and also be reflective when you can, finding things you can improve for the next time, but also finding the positives and things that went well.

What are you most excited for this school year? I am excited to experience PCM as an educator and to grow and learn with my students throughout the year.

Name: Tayler Fenton

Position at PCM: Preschool at Monroe Elementary

Education: Early childhood and elementary education, early childhood special education endorsement and K-8 reading endorsement

Work History: I have subbed for a year and a half in grades Pre-K through fifth grade and taught one year of preschool in Stuart.

What attracted you to PCM to teach? I was attracted to PCM to teach because it is a small community that has great people and schools. After subbing in the district last year, I saw how friendly and welcoming the teacher and students were and I knew I would love to teach there.

What is your favorite teaching method, how do you like to interact with the kids? I like to interact with kids in a hands on manner; becoming involved with each lesson and activity just like the students would. I like to use action and movement in the classroom as it gets the kiddos up, moving and engaged in the activity. When teaching, I like to provide different learning experiences for all students such as seeing it, hearing it, saying it or doing it.

What is a valuable lesson you have learned about teaching? While teaching, I have learned the importance of collaboration and communication. It is extremely important to collaborate with other teachers in order to reflect and grow. Communication between teachers, administration, parents and students is also necessary in order to have a successful classroom. I have also learned that teachers are always learning and growing along with the students.

What are you most excited for this school year? I am most excited to meet all of my kiddos and interact with them daily. I am looking forward to watching them grow and learn throughout the year. I am also excited to become part of the PCM school community.

Name: Hannah Cayton

Position at PCM: Developmental kindergarten

Education: AA from Des Moines Area Community College and BA in early childhood education with special education endorsement from the University of Northern Iowa

What attracted you to PCM to teach? PCM is a small and welcoming community just like the one I grew up in, it reminds me a lot of home. I enjoy the small class size that allows me to interact more one-on-one with my students. It is also closer to my friends and family that live in the Des Moines and Chariton areas.

What is your favorite teaching method, how do you like to interact with the kids? I like to teach in many different ways to try to reach out to each student’s preference. I most enjoy being able to do physical activities and use a lot of manipulative to help better understanding and to avoid boredom.

What is a valuable lesson you have learned about teaching? “All children can learn just not on the same day or in the same way.”

What are you most excited for this school year? What excites me most about the upcoming school year is being able to be a part of the growth and development of my students and being able to help them gain knowledge and understanding about the world around them.

Name: Dylan Dunn

Position at PCM: Fifth grade teach at Prairie City Elementary

Education: Carlisle High School and Iowa State University

What attracted you to PCM to teach? The biggest thing that attracted me to the PCM School District was the small town feel of the community. I grew up in Carlisle which is not a very big town so PCM really made me feel like I was at home.

What is your favorite teaching method, how do you like to interact with the kids? I really like to get the students working together with each other and exploring different materials in their learning. As the teacher I would like to be involved as much as possible working with the students, seeing first hand what they are learning.

What is a valuable lesson you have learned about teaching? One of the most valuable lessons I have learned about teaching is as a teacher you have to be flexible. You never know what curve ball is going to be thrown at you while teaching.

What are you most excited for this school year? One thing that I am most excited for this school year is getting to build a relationship with every student and getting to know them. This is my first year teaching so I am going to be learning with the students every step of the way.

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