Teacher Spotlight: Stefanie Hall, Preschool 3
Where were you born?
My parents were fresh from Purdue University where my father had completed his PhD in Child Psychology when I was born. They settled into a cozy brick house in Springville, Utah. When I was two, they built a home in Provo. They live there still. Dad taught and was in Administration at Brigham Young University for over 35 years.
Who was your favorite teacher in school and why?
I was fortunate to have been taught by many gifted instructors while at the original Waterford school (Provo Campus). One of my favorites was Mrs. Sorensen. When she taught my 7th grade history class, I became aware of a whole new level of critical thinking and writing. She was tough. She cared about ME and challenged what I thought was "my best.” She was invested in not only the facts, but in my personal growth as a “contributor." She exemplified compassionate grit.
Why did you decide to be a teacher?
From the time I was little I had dreams of being a teacher. I hoped to be a positive force for good. I have always believed that by encouraging the learning process, I could inspire students to value being “thinkers.” And when students value thinking, they will dig deeper and learn better.
What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
I love the connection, the creativity and the challenge I experience when I prepare — and then watch things unfold and transform as ideas are presented in the classroom. Both as a parent and a teacher, I am amazed and pleased when the children and I shape each other in cooperative educational efforts.
Share an example of when a student had an “Ah-ha!” Moment in your classroom.
In our PK3 class, we use the “project approach method." This a such a lovely way to introduce new ideas, to act out our information and to follow through on topics that interest the mind and body of a three-turning-four year old. Families are a favorite subject. Recently, there were two new babies born to parents of class members. For show and tell one child brought photos of his new brother at the hospital, and then in the arms of his two year old brother. My preschoolers were fascinated. We mapped the things we knew, and the things we wondered about families and babies. As part of the discussion, they brought up birth and death. We talked, we read stories, we played “house.” As the children took on different roles of Mommies, Daddies, siblings, and pets, their voices changed, their efforts to get along, to compromise, and to apologize, all increased. Some of our “Ah-ha’s” are small, but I feel that they are foundational.
What is the most important thing you hope your students will take from your class?
THE most important thing my students will take away from my class will hopefully be imprinted down deep. I hope to have this first experience in a school environment, away from Mom, be an empowering one. We began by learning the phrase (from the Covey & Habits program) “I like myself, just the way I am” and “I am in charge of me.” We are working on communicating when we feel things strongly; to problem solve, make “thumbs up” decisions and forgive quickly. These little people are in the middle of such a lot of growth spurts: physical, intellectual, and emotional. My commitment is to thread pieces of these aspects into every lesson and activity we work on together.
What makes Arches Academy so special, and why do you like working here?
Arches Academy values Developmentally Appropriate Practices. While in college I had the chance to do an in depth research study on the attachment theory. I came to better understand the ages and stages of children from infancy through age five. I have been so excited to work in the Arches Academy preschool program because of their dedication to reaching and teaching the “whole child.” I have LOVED the smaller class size that enables me to guide and teach as part of the play process. It has been refreshing to work with a team who believe in interactive and individual learning.