's Teacher of the Year recognizes that her students are more likely to succeed in the future if she gives them a great experience in her kindergarten classroom.
Kindergarten teacher Debbie Schatteman said she works to make the first year of school a positive adventure for her kindergarten students. “The first year has to be a wonderful experience. It sets them up for the future,” she said. “I want my students to have enthusiasm for school.”
The kindergarten classroom of today is much more than coloring and group play. Students learn beginning reading, writing, math, social studies, science and computer technology. Life and social skills such as respect and caring for others, problem-solving and trustworthiness are emphasized in kindergarten.
“Problem-solving is a very important aspect of the kindergarten classroom,” Schatteman said. “Kids learn to share, to work together and to solve problems with each other. They begin to learn a sense of independence and responsibility.”
Striving to build relationships with students and their families is a passion for Schatteman. “I get to know my kids and their needs. Sometimes the needs are educational, and sometimes students have other needs,” she said. “The home/school connection is important in learning the needs of students. Parents are so important in education. They help the learning process and provide support especially for kids who struggle.”
“We helped develop a proposal, a vision of what full-day kindergarten would look like,” Schatteman said. “All Parkway schools will have kindergarten programs that look similar.”
In addition to her committee work, she is a mentor for new teachers. “It is one of the best experiences of my career. It’s just awesome,” she said.
Education is a second career for Schatteman. “When I went to college, it was predicted that there wouldn’t be jobs in schools, so I earned a business degree,” she said. “But I always wanted to teach and after about 10 years in the business world, I went back to school so I could teach.”
“This is the greatest honor I’ve ever received. It means so much coming from my peers,” Schatteman said of being named her school's Teacher of the Year.