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CK kindergarten teacher is golden

Jennifer Threadgold, a kindergarten teacher at Jackson Park Elementary School, helps Zach O’Hara (left) and Sebastian Olivo with a writing exercise Jan. 20. Threadgold received Silverdale Chamber of Commerce’s “Innovation in Education” award. - Kristin Okinaka/staff photo
Jennifer Threadgold, a kindergarten teacher at Jackson Park Elementary School, helps Zach O’Hara (left) and Sebastian Olivo with a writing exercise Jan. 20. Threadgold received Silverdale Chamber of Commerce’s “Innovation in Education” award.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka/staff photo

The learning tree stands in the corner with apple-shaped paper that students decorated. Lined across one wall are bins of books and different words stapled to a colorful board. This is Ms. Threadgold’s kindergarten classroom at Jackson Park Elementary School in Central Kitsap.

“Great job today,” said Jennifer Threadgold to her students at the end of the school day Jan. 20. “We only had three people today with an ‘uh-oh’ moment. Let’s remember to keep our happy face all day.”

The 34-year-old teacher uses a management system that reminds students of the promises they keep to her and their peers, such as not talking while someone else is speaking. An ‘uh-oh’ moment is when the promise is broken, and she will talk about the act and expectations with the students. This is one of the ways Threadgold facilitates her classroom, which has given her recent recognition from the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce. The chamber awarded Threadgold with a 2010 “Innovation in Education” award in being a part of advancing the district’s all day kindergarten program. The chamber’s Education Committee selected Threadgold among nominees from various school officials.

“It starts with teaching them how to ‘do school,’” Threadgold said.

“Doing school” includes the basics of teaching students about the school environment and its social responsibilities. While students are honing in on the social norms of the classroom, she incorporates the use of an interactive whiteboard. The whiteboard is a large computer screen that students can physically touch to manipulate objects when doing math lessons or setting up the month’s calendar.

“I like getting them involved with giving them ownership of their environment,” she said. Other ways she gives her students responsibilities is through an independent reading structure where she allows students to decide whether they will read in groups, read to themselves or listen to another student read to them.

One mother, Christina Salazar, was so impressed by Threadgold’s style of teaching and positive attitude with her first child, that she requested her younger kid to be in the class this year, saying “it was a must.”

“There’s always rhymes, or she turns it into a song — and it sticks,” said Salazar of how Threadgold teaches new phrases or words. “She makes things fun for the kids. No one’s bored.”

She always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Threadgold grew up in the California Bay Area and her father was a teacher. Before age 4, she would arrange her stuffed animals in her room and pretend to teach lessons when she should have been sleeping. After graduating from the University of Washington with her teaching certificate, Threadgold began teaching third grade at Silverdale Elementary School in 2001. She also taught at a U.S. Navy Department of Defense school in Italy from 2003 to 2005, and is currently in her fifth year teaching all day kindergarten at Jackson Park.

Tuition-free all day kindergarten programs are offered at Clear Creek, Cougar Valley, Esquire Hills and Woodlands elementary schools along with Jackson Park. Because the state only provides resources to the Central Kitsap School District for half-day kindergarten programs, tuition-based all day kindergarten classes are offered at five other elementary schools, said David Beil, district spokesman. Some of the schools offer morning or afternoon classes as well.

In December 2010, Threadgold received her National Board Certification, which is the highest teaching credential available. It was an 18-month program and her focus was on literacy. Thirteen other teachers in the district recently received their National Board Certification as well, Beil said, adding that this is a record number for the district. Threadgold is also on the district’s Literacy Adoption Committee that researches and discusses best practices for student literacy. She has a passion for literacy because she believes it is the foundation on which everything else builds.

Jackson Park Elementary School Principal Tess Danubio started at the school the same year Threadgold came on board and said it’s rare to find a teacher that encompasses the “whole package,” but that is what Threadgold does.

“All day kindergarten is tough, but she loves being in there,” Danubio said. “You can feel it in the classroom.” One of Threadgold’s strengths is that she knows how to work with children, as well as parents and colleagues, added Danubio.

“It makes coming to work everyday joyful,” she said of the relationships she has formed with students and families. “You’re coming into another family.”

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