“Criss-cross applesauce, spoons in a bowl,” called out Miss Drucker. Just like that, sixteen first graders crossed their legs, put their hands in their laps, and sat patiently on the carpet while Miss Drucker proceeded with her lesson. It was Dr. Seuss week at George A. Towns Elementary School, and Miss Drucker was teaching her first graders how to summarize a story using the book, The Sneetches and Other Stories. She captivated her audience from the beginning of the lesson when she introduced the topic of summarization. “Why do we read?” she asked. “To make our brains bigger!” “To get smarter!” “To get jobs!” were some of the answers.
We discussed the Teach for America core value of Leadership in our Classroom to Community class this week, and as I observed Miss Drucker teaching her first graders, I noticed how much she embodied the vision of leadership that Teach for America has for its members. She sets challenging goals for her students, and works determinedly to help them achieve these goals. Some of the children came into class that year reading at a kindergarten level. Some of them came in at a low first grade level. Others were average or advanced. But each of them has a goal reading level, and almost all of them have made or exceeded their goal through the course of the year.
The delight of reading Dr. Seuss helps Miss Drucker’s first graders engage with the material. This, combined with Miss Drucker’s energy, support and determination to push her students to achieve, has made a recipe for successful learning. It is truly amazing and inspiring to watch it happen.