Kelley Crain, a teacher for more than 30 years, is always on the move with her blended second and third grade class at Paris Elementary School. Sometimes it’s creating a bulletin board to display work and other times it’s to simply get wiggles out so the learning can begin.
Eli Sagesar, who at 9 years old is an emerging reader, works in a small group. Like Eli, all the children take turns working in twos or threes under Kelley’s guidance to master skills such as text analysis and comprehension.
Community spirit flows into independent work time when students have the option to collaborate with a partner. They sit on the floor, find a cushion-covered crate or, like third graders Christina Johnson (from left), Mady Morris, Braxton Brooks and second grader Rory Ryan, stand with their workmate at a desk.
Kelley’s class travels the hallways quietly on their way to the cafeteria. “I’m always late so they give me the last lunch of the day,” Kelley admitted, laughing.
Seven-year-old Greyson Caudill continues a game of telephone started by, in his words, “the one and only teacher Ms. Crain.” Kelley eats lunch alongside her students daily, demonstrating life skills such as table manners and how to clean up.
Recess lasts about 20 minutes and is the only unstructured time in a Paris Elementary School student’s day. There’s basketball, tag, using playground equipment and imagination-based playing happening all around. If students want Kelley, they can find her on the swings.
When students like 7-year-old second grader Everleigh Etheridge complete the day’s assignments, they can choose between reading a book from their curated collection, practicing math facts or, like Everleigh, listening to a story on a literacy website called EPIC.
As the day winds down, the class gathers on the rug and Kelley reads them a story related to a topic they learned about earlier in the day. It’s a full-circle approach to a jam-packed day of learning.
The elementary school day ends at 2:50 p.m. and Kelley makes good use of dismissal time by giving high-fives, hugs and reassurance that she will be there tomorrow.