Welcome to Kindergarten
My name is Melissa Fugitt and I am the Kindergarten teacher at St. Mary, Star of the Sea.
For my first seven years at St. Mary’s, I was the Fifth Grade teacher. I was very happy to work with that age group and I enjoyed the curriculum. However, my first love is working with the little ones. Before coming to St. Mary’s I taught preschool for four years, and I was able to put my Child Development degree to good use. In 2012 I was given the opportunity to move down to the Kindergarten here at St. Mary’s, and it has been a true joy.
Kindergarten can be a challenging time. There are many new experiences that can be trying for young students, and heartrending for parents. In our classroom we recognize both the incredible potential of our students, as well as the need for play, fun, and compassion. By structuring the curriculum and the learning environment to accommodate the intellectual, emotional, and social needs of the children, we create a warm, loving, and stimulating Kindergarten experience.
Please let me take this opportunity to give you an idea of our philosophy of education for early childhood at St. Mary’s, which helps to shape our decisions in regards to methodology.
Certainly it is important to have clear educational goals, and we form our curricular goals around California Standards. But in addition, we plan our curriculum based on our understanding of how children at the Kindergarten age best learn, following nationally recognized developmentally appropriate practices for young children.
Obviously Kindergartners have not reached the age of abstract reasoning and they are therefore concrete learners. Accordingly, they learn skills and acquire new concepts best when they have an environment filled with opportunities to use hands on materials to "create their own knowledge." This occurs through the use of project-based activities which extend their attention, interest, vocabulary, and subject knowledge. Thus our emphasis on project-based activities, as opposed to traditional whole-classroom instruction, where the teacher instructs and the student repeats. We still have whole-classroom instruction, but what we have achieved is a proper balance between whole-classroom instructions and small-group project-based learning.
Especially at this early age, it is very important that the students develop self-management skills. They can only do this when we give them the opportunity to choose some of their activities and to be responsible for their behavior. We furthermore believe it is of great benefit for children to be given opportunities to solve problems, communicate with each other and pursue individual interests, which, besides the benefits to intellectual growth has the added befit of contributing to the development of happy, confident kids.
Students at this age also need to continue to develop their large motor skills. That means that they need the time and space to move their bodies, hence the importance of adequate recess time. There are many other psychological, social, and even intellectual advantages to giving children ample opportunities for free play, and there is a significant body of research to back this up.
I realize that this is only a brief summary of our Kindergarten philosophy and methodology, but I hope it will give you some idea of what we will be doing next year. We believe that our approach is the best for developing the whole child. In addition, I have the added advantage of a full-time and experienced assistant teacher and a second classroom, which allows us to divide the children for small group and individual projects. All in all, I couldn’t ask for a better situation in which to teach.
If you are thinking of attending St. Mary’s for Kindergarten next year, I invite you to come and visit with me so that we can begin our acquaintance. If you would like to meet with me after school some day, you may schedule to meet with me through the Elementary front office or through Debbie Shapiro. Debbie will also schedule a time to visit during the school day, if you would like to see our class in operation. You are always welcome!
I believe that parent/ teacher communication is vital. I am available before and after school if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.
Mrs. Melissa Fugitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: (760) 722-7259