Kristy Rehorst’s Class

Longfellow Elementary School
Size of 2010-2011 kindergarten class: 48 (two sections)
Teachers: Nancy Noess, Kristy Rehorst

Longfellow teacher finds it difficult to think of job as ‘work’

By ANNA JAUHOLA
The Daily Republic

Kristy Rehorst’s kindergarten students at Longfellow Elementary School in Mitchell are a lot like sponges — they’re ready to absorb any information given them.

Although the expectations for kindergarteners are much higher than they were 10 years ago, Rehorst said her students are willing and ready to learn when they enter her classroom. If they are not, they will fall behind.

“Kindergarten used to be a time when shapes, colors, letters, numbers and social skills were taught,” she said. “If a child enters kindergarten in today’s society without some understanding of those above skills, they are going to be academically behind their peers.”

The students are immersed in an all-day, every-weekday setting now, whereas in years past, they only attended a half-day program, which included a nap. The children no longer participate in naptime; rather, they have a quiet learning time where they can listen to books on tape or read, or complete a low-key activity.

This helps them prepare for the world of learning each day. Kindergarten is much more structured than ever before. Longfellow sets aside long blocks of time for each subject rather than just integrating the subjects into playtime or teaching them in short segments.

Rehorst said time slots are reserved for special classes like physical education, music, art, library and computers. In the same grain, the basic skills have longer slots — 90 minutes for reading, 30 minutes for reading intervention, 60 minutes for writing and 60 minutes for math.

This may seem like a heavy task for children so young, but many are prepared, and the teachers are well trained to help the children through.

Despite having a learning disability, Paul Bauman entered kindergarten with a happy mind. He was nervous at first, said his mother, Ann Bauman, but Paul came home after his first day with a good attitude.

“He enjoyed his first day. He was jumping for joy. He was happy,” Ann said.

Ann was a little scared, too, even though Paul is her third child to enter school. She was worried he wouldn’t fit in or learn as quickly as the other students. However, his first day put those fears to rest.

On the flip side, Gabriel Freidel was excited to go to his first day of kindergarten. Having attended begindergarten the year before, he was familiar with Longfellow and already had many friends.

“Gabe loves school, so he was very, very excited,” said his mother, Shannon.

As for sending Gabriel off to school his first day, Shannon found it a little sad, even though he was her third child in school.

“It’s always kind of hard, because it’s like you’re baby’s leaving the house,” she said.

The Hobbie household sent its second child to kindergarten last year. Natali Hobbie was shy, but enjoyed her first day of school at Longfellow, said her mother, Nikki.

“She was excited, but with her personality, she’s kind of a homebody,” Nikki said. “She’s family oriented. She was excited but nervous and scared.”

Nikki said Natali came home after her first day and talked about the new friends she made and how much she liked Rehorst.

Technology plays a large role in students’ learning at Longfellow. Each classroom has Smart Boards, which are interactive whiteboards connected to computers. Rehorst said Smart Boards make the possibilities for learning endless.

“The advancements in technology have made teaching more interactive and enjoyable for students,” Rehorst said. “The change in technology has also made it easier for teachers to teach to the different learning levels that exist within the classroom.”

Rehorst began her career at Longfellow as a student teacher under Nancy Noess, who also teaches kindergarten. She has now been teaching for five years and can’t think of a single thing she doesn’t like about it. The fact that students have such a desire to learn is her favorite aspect. To enhance this, Rehorst, like many others, incorporates many hands-on activities to make learning fun and successful.

Not only do kindergarteners learn progressive work habits like listening, following instructions and working independently, they grow in their social skills and are graded on both.

According to Mitchell School District’s kindergarten progress report teachers fill out each quarter, students are graded on social skills, work habits, physical education, music, art, reading, math, fine motor skills, personal information, colors and sight words.

Many of the longstanding skills are still taught in kindergarten, such as working cooperatively with peers, listens to peers, raises hand to share, stands in line, takes care of supplies and cleans up after self.

The grade is a more intense learning environment with the students expected to be able to write their names and in acceptable form by the end of the year, and create sentences. Students develop more expansive math skills by the end of kindergarten. Not only are they expected to count by ones to 10, if not 20, they are expected to count by fives and 10s. Learning the coins and the value of them is also expected.

As for her teaching experience in this new age of kindergarten, Rehorst said the staff, faculty and students at Longfellow are great.

“I am fortunate that I get to work with such a wonderful family,” she said. “I enjoy what I do and who I work with so much that I find it hard to even call it work.”

 

Five questions with Gabriel Freidel
Q: What did you learn in kindergarten?
A: Sight words, I made a Mother’s Day card, we celebrated birthdays and read. We’d go to the computer lab, art lab, gym and play on the new playground equipment.
Q: Did you like kindergarten?
A: Yes. I could read books. I read “Green Eggs and Ham.”
Q: What was your favorite part of kindergarten?
A: Playing in the gym. We ran around, played games and did activities.
Q: What was your least favorite part of kindergarten?
A: I didn’t like the running.
Q: What was your first day like?
A: I was shy. I was excited to see friends.

Five questions with Paul Bauman
Q: What did you learn in kindergarten?
A: Counting. I learned some words. We played in the gym and on the playground.
Q: Did you like kindergarten?
A: Yep. I liked art and the park and the music room.
Q: What was your favorite part of kindergarten?
A: Learning words.
Q: Did you like your teacher?
A: Yep. I liked her cause she was nice.
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: I want to be a WWE wrestler.

Five questions with Natali Hobbie
Q: What did you learn in kindergarten?
A: Numbers, ABCs and letters.
Q: What was your favorite part of kindergarten?
A: When we had snack.
Q: What was the worst part of kindergarten?
A: When it was winter.
Q: What do you want to do when you grow up?
A: What my mommy does. Work at Verifications.
Q: Where do you want to live when you grow up?
A: Texas.

  

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