We end the school year with a short reflection on this year from Natalie Ehalt, our program manager. We are closed for Summer Break from June 15 – July 15, and start summer camps in August.

On the last day of school, it’s fun to pause to reflect back on one of my favorite activities at Joyce: popping into the classrooms and getting inspired by the different instructional strategies that I see teachers use.

I hear Maestro Jose’s class practicing the letters of the Spanish alphabet, saying each letter three times in unison, as they march down the hallway and stairs toward the big dining room, where they’ll burn off some energy by running, skipping, and crab-walking.

Maestra Cristina brings real-world issues into the classroom and helps activate kids’ empathy and awareness of the environment and the people in their community. She teaches them about words like “power” and helps them understand how interconnected we all are.

Maestra Gloria infuses enthusiasm and fun into every activity she does with the children because she knows that if kids are engaged and having fun, that they’ll learn even more. I love watching her students dance to the “Gallina Turuleca” song!

In Teacher Katie’s class, children find picture cards with thematic vocabulary words clipped to their notebooks as they walk into the room and practice writing these new words while teacher Katie welcomes them and guides them to choose from a variety of intentionally-placed learning stimuli, helping them to feel settled and centered.

As a small group of children wait patiently to use the bathroom, Maestro Camilo seizes the opportunity for learning and creativity. He’s armed with a preschool-sized electronic piano, and pumps out different melodies while kids sing along and offer suggestions.

Maestra Janett repurposes paint color sample cards from the hardware store and helps children create a colorful forest of trees on the fronts of greeting cards to send home to their families. Her calm and patient nature allows even the shyest of students to begin engaging with the Spanish language.

The children in Teacher Thressa’s class get messy! Paint, leaves, pinecones, and other ooey gooey materials make regular appearances in the classroom. Children drive toy cars through puddles of paint to make swirly, zig-zaggy and other wild tracks on gigantic pieces of paper in a collaborative art project.

Maestra Erika embraces the traditions of her families, coworkers, and community members by inviting them into the classroom to share about their countries of origin. Children touch, see, hear, and taste their way around the world while identifying similarities and differences with their own families’ traditions.

I am proud to work with the teachers at Joyce because they are so thoughtful and creative in their choice of activities, instructional strategies, and environmental elements. They keep their focus on what will engage children and help them develop skills in language and literacy and social-emotional learning. And, if you spend even one minute in a Joyce classroom, you’ll notice that teachers have a ton of fun themselves, too!

I’ll miss these moments over the quiet summer while Joyce is closed for break, but I am glad these energetic, fun-loving, amazing teachers will have some time to recharge.

See you all in the fall!

— Natalie Ehalt, program manager

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