Dwight’s preschool and kindergarten students are enthusiastic learners and our Riverside Campus faculty are equally passionate about providing them with the all-important building blocks that will support their educational journeys from their first days in the classroom through to graduation.
Our team of early education experts includes six specialists, whose love of teaching shines through our conversations with them:
Physical Education: Richard Geiger
I believe in a philosophy of mind, body, spirit. In the gym, children are learning about the body, to eat right, and exercising. We start the year with teambuilding and a cooperation unit. Then we do more skill-based, gross motor learning, followed by sport-specific skills in soccer, basketball, and tennis. I love working with this age group because it builds the foundation. Being able to see from the beginning of the unit to the end, from the beginning of the year to the end, the progressions students make — that is why you want to teach. You want to see them expand their knowledge and be able to do new things. It’s a great feeling as a teacher to know that they’re being successful and that I’m being successful as a teacher.
Music: Jill Brown
A parent said to me, “You’re a celebrity in our house!” I was so surprised to hear this because I thought this child was very reserved and shy. Her mother explained, “Every day that you teach my daughter, she comes home, gets her stuffed animals out, lines them up in a circle, gets her guitar (little ukulele), and says, ‘Hello, I’m Miss Jill!’ This student then goes through my whole lesson, from start to finish!
In my classroom, there are always instruments and props, and we always start with a hello song. The students do a lot of fingerplays. We’re getting them to experience rhymes, to use their hands and gestures to develop language for the song. What I found that’s so important about music is language — it’s what they’re retaining because of the songs and the enjoyment they’re experiencing. I’m the teacher that gets to do what every kid loves!
Mandarin: Mini Hu
When you’re speaking different languages, you’re actually activating different parts of your brain. I love studying languages, and the language I love most is my native language: Mandarin. It is beautiful; it’s not alphabetical and it has pictures.
When you come to my class, you will see students singing and writing in Mandarin — writing Chinese characters. Also, we will be telling stories in Mandarin. The reason I love to teach young children is because there are just so many possibilities for them. They learn languages at so fast a pace, at such an advanced level, you cannot imagine! Children know they’re mastering another language and I would say that is a very memorable experience for them.
Spanish: Tania Carpio
What I love about teaching Spanish is that it opens up the world to children and it’s great to see that spark in their eyes when you expose them to something new. I’m glad I’m able to see it on a daily basis!
When you come to my classroom, one of the things you will see is that we’re moving around. Language should be fun, language should be kinesthetic, language should be learned in so many different ways. Not everybody learns the same way.
Studio: Zach Horvet
The guiding principle of the studio and my teaching is that I want to give students the opportunities to learn about things in as many ways as possible.
Children are capable of so much and they respond accordingly. When you show them how to use a tool, and they learn how to use it independently, that is a huge step for them; it’s a huge step in their confidence level and they have acquired skills that will be with them for the rest of their lives. I always have a variety of activities, whether they be sensory, hands-on, abstract, drawing, or painting that will provide students with a different kind of framework or perspective. I helped in constructing this classroom knowing that it was going to be a major part of what I wanted the kids to take from the studio through hands-on learning.
Library: Kelsey Thomas
Reading is important because it shows us things that we wouldn’t normally see in our lives. That’s where I find the crux of what drives me with students. I really enjoy bringing them something that they wouldn't encounter. To have someone who’s consistent role is to shape what the library program looks like for every step with the two-year-olds through kindergarten is really impactful. Students come in, they sit down, and depending on the age group we start with a couple of songs. Then we read!
I plug into our units of inquiry so that students are getting another perspective and another vision of the content they’re learning in their classrooms. If there are a few things that I want students to get out of being here in library with me, one of them would definitely be just to love reading, to love the experience of reading; the physicality of a book, the experience of sharing that with someone else.