Teachers of New Jersey: Jamie Davison, Kindergarten, Land O’ Pines School, Howell

I wanted to be a teacher ever since I was little. I would always play school with my little sisters. Then I got to second grade, and I had the most awesome teacher, Mrs. O’Connell, and she really inspired me to be a teacher. To this day I try to implement so many things that she instilled in me when I was in second grade. I was so comfortable in her class. She was so welcoming, I felt like I could tell her anything. I was very shy at that age, and I would not want to speak up in class because I was afraid the other kids would laugh at me. But in her classroom, she made me feel like I could give answers in class and it was okay if I made a mistake, and that made all the difference.

In my kindergarten class I try to connect with the kids and let them know I am human, too. I am very emotional, so if I am reading a book I will try to make a connection with them as I read it. The way I treat my students is no different than how I will treat my own kids. We do a lot of role playing and help them learn to get along and teach them how to share. We just take each moment and talk about what they can do differently if they are arguing over a toy.

I just want my students to know that every day there is something to be learned. Hearing these kids say, ‘No, I can’t do it,’ I tell them, ‘Yes, you can do it; we just need to keep trying together and reaching for those stars.’

In kindergarten, the demands are very real. They are expected to be able to write sentences by the time the year is over, they are expected to tell stories, and a lot of my kids are reading by the time they leave my class. I get so excited for them as they learn, and it helped them to be proud of themselves for the progress they are making. I give them stickers that say, ‘I did something great today, ask me about it.’ And teachers in our school will see it and ask them about it, and they will tell them, ‘I read today!’

I used to teach 2nd grade before moving to kindergarten, and we had peer leadership come into our building, and one of the students was a former student of mine in second grade, and she was here reading to our kids. Later she gave me the biggest hug, and she said, ‘I had an amazing second grade year because of you!’ She is going into college now. I am sitting here talking about my second grade teacher Mrs. O’Connell, and I hope that someday my kids will be talking about me when they think of their former teachers. Getting this job 15 years ago was my dream come true.

Interview and article by Gregory Andrus. To see more of his work, visit www.potjs.com

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