As part of our back-to-school campaign this year, we visited the kindergarten classroom of second-year teacher Ms. Paolomi in Rocky Mount, NC, and dropped off a Stardust Nugget for her class. With the kids headed home and the last day of the first week of school in the books, we asked four simple questions about TFA, her classroom, and her Nugget.
What made you join Teach for America?
Truthfully, I didn’t know exactly why I joined Teach for America until I joined Teach for America. Before TFA, I was blind to some of the biggest problems our nation faces; one being the education system. As I furthered my journey with TFA and continued learning about the inequitable systems that have existed for years, I couldn’t have been happier to be a part of a systems-changing organization like TFA. Every day I see the realities of the broken systems we have through the eyes of my students. I am so grateful and proud to have the privilege to serve my students every single day and be a part of their education journey.
What are the biggest needs in your classroom?
The biggest needs in my classroom are iPads. While I am fortunate to have four desktop computers in my room, a 1:1 technology ratio would allow my scholars to grow even more. Most of my scholars have access to some form of electronics at home, and many are familiar with how to use technology like iPads. My scholars also find iPads fun and engaging, which they are! There are great research-based curriculums that have an online component to them. A great thing about that is scholars are working hard without even realizing it. A 1:1 technology ratio would also enable me to differentiate skills and practice based on individual scholar needs more easily.
How would extra funding for STEM projects help you in your kinder classroom?
Extra funding for STEM projects would give my scholars a chance to strengthen their ability to work as a team. Moreover, STEM provides insight to a critical understanding and application of how the world around them works. Exposing scholars to STEM early on gives them an opportunity to get their feet wet in potential career paths while still encouraging them to use their imagination.
How are you using your Nugget in your classroom?
Our classroom Nugget is being used as an incentive for positive behavior, as well as a space for morning reading. Reading plays such a crucial role in a child’s education, and, sometimes, the stress around needing to read can deter students from actually wanting to read on their own. Even my kindergarten students sometimes get frustrated because when they pick up a book, they can’t read any of the words. The Nugget has played an incredible role in sparking that curiosity and desire to read in my students. They love getting to sit on the “couch” with a book and try to make sense of the pictures. Having the Nugget in the room has given my scholars an opportunity to explore a variety of texts while incorporating a fun and comfortable aspect into the mix.