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 .”