By Stacey Phillips
Whether they discussed faraway lands or learned about the nation’s history, there is at least one teacher at Solana Santa Fe (SSF) all students met with each week – Veronica Reist, the curriculum resource teacher. Reist was named the “2012-2013 Teacher of the Year” at the elementary school.
“It’s such an honor. Because it is voted on by my peers that means a lot to know that they appreciate the work I do,” Reist said. “As a support teacher, I feel like my job is to make the work that they do in the classroom easier and any way that I can do that I try to.”
Reist’s earliest thoughts about teaching were in third grade when she wanted to stay after school and help her teacher cut out letters for bulletin boards. “Once I got into teaching that’s when I really found that reading and literature were my passion and decided to pursue my master’s in literacy,” she said.
She began working at SSF in 1996, mainly teaching second and third grade students. While working toward her master’s and earning her reading specialist credentials, she spent part of her time at Solana Vista and Skyline for a year as a reading teacher.
After taking a teaching break from 2004-2008 to have her two children, Reist returned to SSF in 2008 as the reading teacher, as well as focusing on English Language Development instruction.
This was her second year as the curriculum resource teacher and part of her responsibility was to manage the school’s library, referred to as the media center. Every classroom at SSF visits the library once a week for a 40-minute lesson. As the library has changed from a place where you just checked out books to a hub of information, Reist said her role has also changed.
With the addition of iPads, Reist found that she incorporated more about technology into her lessons, such as online research skills and how to evaluate whether a source is reliable.
She also spent much of her time supporting teachers with their curriculum needs and coordinated a variety of programs, including the school’s book fair and various reading programs such as Books and Beyond (see sidebar on this page) and the Summer Boost Program. “I love the variety of it and that every day is different,” said Reist. “There is something about each grade that makes it so special.”
Last year Reist initiated an optional book club for fourth grade students. Due to its success, she extended the program to grades one to six this past school year. There was a separate session for each grade level and students met weekly to discuss the book she chose for them. She often heard from teachers that with the increased demand of schoolwork students often don’t read for leisure.
“Kids don’t have time to get lost in a good book,” she said. In addition to encouraging them to build up their reading endurance, she also hoped to share a love of reading with them that continues at home. “When children see their parents reading, it is so powerful.”
When Reist isn’t teaching, she enjoys spending time with her children doing crafts, and taking trips to the zoo, park and one of her favorites places, the public library.
“It has been quite a journey and I didn’t picture doing all of these different things,” said Reist. “…I landed where I think I was supposed to land.”