Mesa Verde Ele­men­tary Wel­comes New Teacher

Riverbank News - - FRONT PAGE - BY VIRGINIA STILL vstill@oak­dale­leader.com

New this year to the River­bank Uni­fied School Dis­trict and to Mesa Verde Ele­men­tary, fourth grade teacher Kathe Gon­salves has been busy th­ese past few weeks with the be­gin­ning of school, set­ting up her class­room and a new cur­ricu­lum. Each day it gets a lit­tle bit eas­ier for her and with help­ful stu­dents and staff, it has made the start to the new school year even bet­ter.

“I love it,” ex­pressed Gon­salves about teach­ing. “I am hav­ing fun. It is so much work. I just re­ally don’t know if peo­ple re­al­ize how hard teach­ers work. You love th­ese chil­dren and you want to give them ev­ery­thing that you have and so I am here re­ally early and I am here re­ally late. Be­cause once they walk through the door, you have to be ready for them.”

Af­ter work­ing at an in­sur­ance agency and be­ing dis­cour­aged by the em­pha­sis on sales and com­mis­sions, Gon­salves de­cided to go back to school to get her teach­ing cre­den­tial. She al­ways wanted to be in the ser­vice in­dus­try and although she was mar­ried with three chil­dren and go­ing back to school was a chal­lenge, she started out slowly. But her sec­ond ca­reer has been re­ward­ing, as she has 25 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence now in teach­ing.

Prior to start­ing her teach­ing ca­reer at Mesa Verde this school year, Gon­salves was work­ing at the San Joaquin County Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion where she has been for the past 11 years. She also taught all grades with Man­teca Uni­fied School Dis­trict prior to mov­ing to the county of­fice. With a mas­ter’s de­gree in read­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence with read­ing in­ter­ven­tion she has a love and pas­sion for read­ing. Work­ing with ad­min­is­tra­tion was a great ex­pe­ri­ence for her but she missed work­ing at a school site with her own class­room and the chil­dren.

“I love work­ing with chil­dren,” stated Gon­salves. “I love learn­ing. I found my­self re­ally want­ing to come back and con­tinue that work and be a part of the team. So I just missed the stu­dents and hav­ing my own group of stu­dents to teach. But I also just missed the ca­ma­raderie that you have work­ing at a school site, it is re­ally spe­cial.”

This school year one of her goals for her fourth graders is to ig­nite pas­sion for read­ing. Along with the help from the stu­dents cat­e­go­riz­ing the books in the lit­tle li­brary they cre­ated in the class­room, they also en­gage in a read aloud por­tion of class time that en­gages the stu­dents in dis­cus­sion about the books and helps their com­pre­hen­sion. Through the San Fran­cisco

Chil­dren’s Book Project, Gon­salves was able to pick up 73 books to put in her class­room and get the small li­brary started.

Although the class­room has gone dig­i­tal for many things and teach­ers use tech­nol­ogy on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, Gon­salves ex­plained that it is still very im­por­tant for kids to read printed text and hold a book in their hands. She added that cur­rent re­search has shown that it is bet­ter for kids to read print text ver­sus dig­i­tal; how­ever, there needs to be a bal­ance.

The stu­dents have a weekly so­cial stud­ies news­pa­per that has in­for­ma­tion, a color ac­tiv­ity and a crossword puzzle. In one ex­er­cise, Gon­salves gave the stu­dents 11 dif­fer­ent things on the map of the State of Cal­i­for­nia that they had to place on their map like Sacra­mento, the Pa­cific Ocean, and the Cen­tral Val­ley be­fore look­ing at an ac­tual map of Cal­i­for­nia.

Ex­cited for the new school year with her 28 stu­dents at Mesa Verde, Gon­salves – who lives in Man­teca – may have a lit­tle longer com­mute than she orig­i­nally an­tici- pated, but said she has now ad­justed, us­ing the com­mute as a time to un­wind.

VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

New to Mesa Verde Ele­men­tary this school year is fourth grade teacher Kathe Gon­salves, who is ex­cited to be back in the class­room.

VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The wall with the col­or­ful State of Cal­i­for­nia maps was a project that taught the stu­dents about the great state of Cal­i­for­nia and where a few dif­fer­ent things are lo­cated.

VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

With a love and pas­sion for read­ing, teacher Kathe Gon­salves has set up a lit­tle li­brary in her class­room on the Mesa Verde cam­pus.

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