ASHWAUBENON - Life with a couple dozen first graders every day not only keeps them moving, but it also keeps their teacher moving; which is exactly how she designed it.
Valley View Elementary teacher and one of this year's Golden Apple recipients, Ashley Gonwa says she's always wanted to work with kids someday.
Gonwa is in her 9th year of teaching, second at Valley View, where she focuses on making her first graders smarter and more independent.
That seems to blend seamlessly with her passion, "I like to see how we can lay the groundwork and foundation for them to be better readers and writers. Just seeing them grow and instilling that love of learning in them is really great," says Gonwa.
She's prepared her students to choose from among five options each day.
Whether it's read to self, read to someone, work on writing, word work, or the last one is listen to reading, Gonwa makes reading a high priority.
"We're not telling them you have to write right now, you have to read right now. Giving them that choice really keeps them motivated. There's a lot of problem solving in first grade," Gonwa said.
Activities that now take advantage of 21st century technology.
"This is my first time getting to use 10 iPads in a classroom, which is amazing," admits Gonwa, "It's tiring, but it's so rewarding, it outweighs any kind of tiredness you might have. I love teaching and I think one of the neat things is not only is every year different, but every .day is different. The kids are excited to learn and I'm excited to help them, help them learn."