Gilroy Today 2013 03 Spring - Page 29

Gina Chekouras FIRST GRADE TEACHER / GUSD It’s a sense of fun and wonder that Gina Chekouras strives to bring to her first grade classroom at Glen View School in Gilroy each day. She points to a sign that hangs in the middle of her classroom, which greets her and her 23 students each day. “It’s all about attitude,” she reads. “It stems back to why I’m even here. It all goes back to it’s what you make of it.” Under the sign Chekouras has pinned a gentle reminder that she wrote to herself from the class mascot, Lamby, a stuffed animal the children adore. “Dear Mrs. Chekouras, don’t forget to have fun today.” Chekouras’ classroom’s walls are lined with words, topics, sentences, shelves of books, and self-portraits of her students – they learn about a different artist each month.“The most important thing for me is the relationshipbuilding, instilling confidence,” Chekouras explains. “You have to have that intrinsic motivation to want to be here.” Chekouras works to motivate her students to want to be here, building up their self-esteem so that they feel confident enough to stand up and answer questions. “By the end of the year I want them to question me,” Chekouras said. “I really want them to take their confidence to second grade, take ownership of that learning, to really be thinkers. I really want them to love school and love being here. Being independent and solving their own problems.” In turn, she said from her students, she learns patience and understanding. “They make me a better teacher, that’s for sure.” By Kelly Barbazette S P R I N G 2 0 1 3 G I L R O Y T O D A Y 29