Q&A: A Kindergarten Teacher in Baker City, in Her Own Words


by Melissa Duclos



Over the summer, Children’s Institute highlighted the important work of early childhood educators, hearing from teachers across the state about their experiences teaching preschool and kindergarten. We’re wrapping up the series as fall approaches with some additional insights into school readiness.

Cynthia Norton Explains What Kindergarten Readiness Means in Her Classroom

Cynthia Norton is a kindergarten teacher at Brooklyn Primary School, a K–3 school in Baker City. In this brief interview, Cynthia shares what parents can do to help prepare their children for kindergarten, and a bit about what she’s learned from her students over the years.

Why do you teach kindergarten, and what are you most looking forward to as school gets started?

I teach kindergarten because I love helping young children achieve their goals. Every day in kindergarten is so exciting: all the students make so much growth both academically and socially.

I’m really looking forward to making connections with my new students and their families. I love building a relationship with every student and their families. Each student brings a unique quality to our classroom which is the perfect design for our new community. I love working with all the students to discover what that will look like for the year. Of course, this changes over time and everyone finds their groove.

What does it mean for a child to be kindergarten ready?

For a student to be ready for kindergarten they need to be ready to learn. In my mind they don’t have to all be at the same level, but it’s nice if they have been read to on a daily basis. If parents are able to have this reading interaction with their 5-year-old it is a huge advantage for kindergarten. Being ready for kindergarten also means being able to follow directions from an adult.

To learn more about summer programs that can help prepare students to go back to school, and the importance of reading at home, check out our recent story on summer programs at Earl Boyles Elementary School and in Drain, Oregon.

What have you learned from past students that will impact your teaching this year?

I have learned so much from my past students. Having the ability to be flexible with every student is vital. I had a student during a math lesson show the class how he was able to solve a problem using a different method than the one I taught. This was so valuable to me and the rest of the class.

My students have also taught me to never give up on them and to have an unconditional belief in their abilities, and to always keep a smile on my face and try new things. Each year I learn so much from my class and the experiences they provide.


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