First-year teacher puts finishing touches on classroom

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | 7:38 p.m. CDT; updated 9:32 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Holly Snyder shares a laugh with fellow first-grade teachers Janine Taylor, Jessica Bach and Ann Cardetti during a meeting in Shepard Elementary on Wednesday. The first-grade teachers were meeting to plan ahead of the first day of school.

COLUMBIA — A bright, third-grade classroom at Shepard Elementary School has been dressed up with an elephant kite and other colorful decorations. Each desk sports blank nameplates and a banner with the words “Learn with purpose” hangs next to a large wall clock.

Hannah Hassemer was putting the finishing touches on her classroom Wednesday at Shepard . On Thursday, the 23-year-old will mark her first day as a full-fledged teacher.


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“My mom is in education,” Hassemer said. “She’s had a great influence on me. When I went to college, I decided to focus on education. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Hassemer met her students at an open house Monday evening, and described them as smiling and full of expectation. “I hope we can keep the high energy and positive attitude,” she said.

Hassemer expects about 20 students, about half of them from the second-grade class she helped with as a student teacher.

“I am a little bit nervous but well prepared,” she said.

During the summer, the staff at Shepard received training in "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" book by Stephen Covey. The program, in its second year at Shepard, is designed to help students be more productive and confident in their life and study.

Phrases like synergize, proactive and win-win float around the school. Janitors are referred to as “sanitation leaders” and physical education teachers as “recreation leaders.”

“In my eyes, every child has the ability to be a leader,” first-grade teacher Holly Snyder said. “What we are doing is just empowering them.”

In other classrooms, groups of teachers were having meetings or arranging study tools for students. Technicians installed new computers in classrooms.

“It’s the last day to get prepared, so everybody is so busy,” said Shepard Principal JoNetta Weaver. “Bring ‘em on. We are ready to go.”

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