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Faculty Spotlight: Q&A with Kristin Owen, jr. kindergarten teacher

By Jennifer Fogarty, communications content manager
What is your favorite memory from when you were in elementary school? 
My favorite elementary school memory was when I received an “A” in math to get a dog. Math was always challenging for me, and I had begged my parents for a dog for a very long time. My dad decided to give me some incentive to work a little harder. I persevered, taking the time and putting in the effort to make sure I achieved my goal. There was no greater feeling of accomplishment than to come home, and show my dad that all my hard work had paid off. The look on his face was priceless as I could see and feel the pride he felt in my success.
How do you build community/trust in your classroom?
A sense of community is very important in my classroom. I make sure that when the students are in my class they know that they matter and are important. Besides the physical behaviors of getting down on their level when speaking and making clear eye contact, I refer to our class as our “school family.” Typically, family members are the most important people in a young child’s life, therefore attaching the word family to their classmates makes a strong association for trust and community.

Share with us two of your mentors, and why?
My sixth-grade teacher was my first mentor. We developed a very close bond. It was through her love of teaching and the respect she showed me that I continued to develop a lifelong love of learning and began to develop my identity as a teacher. My second mentor is Assistant Head of Lower School Maria Curtis. She took me under her wing when I first started at LJCDS 18 years ago. She has shown me how to not just be the best educator I can be but the best human being I can be.
What is a teaching method you are currently exploring?
I am currently exploring components of the Reggio Emilia approach. I, along with my colleagues, have worked to create a more inviting homelike physical environment and a richer curriculum that involves more documentation of the students' learning process and co-collaboration with the students on their interests and curiosity. The students have become a part of constructing their own learning, developing more reflection and critical thinking skills.
What do you love most about teaching overall?
I love EVERYTHING about teaching! Since I teach junior kindergarten I get to share many of my students’ first learning experiences, and I love to see their excited expressions and responses when they discover new concepts and ideas. Their innocence and sense of wonder about the world is intoxicating and rejuvenating.
What do you want your students to remember most about your classroom 10 years from now?
In 10 years I want my students to remember their junior kindergarten classroom as a place where they had a sense of belonging and felt they were respected and loved. I want them to remember that sense of wonder and how much fun learning can be and that they were encouraged to ask questions, lots of questions! I would like them to remember the class values, have courage and be kind.

Favorite children’s book? 
The Pokey Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey
Favorite place to visit? The beach
First job? Summer camp counselor
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A dolphin trainer at SeaWorld


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