LYNN — For Lynn's Emily Olson, who has just completed her first year of teaching, being at the Harrington School was a special gift.
"Absolutely," said Olson Friday, shortly after she said goodbye to her first-ever class, feeling she established the bond with her second grade class and that she'll always remember the boys and girls she taught this year.
"I think I'll remember all my classes," she said, "but this one in particular. I know people say this all the time, but I think I learned as much from them as they learned from me. Maybe even more."
It didn't hurt that the other two members of her teaching team were people she grew up, and played softball with, all through her childhood and adolescence: Amanda Stevens and Jenny Garrity.
"It was a great experience teaching with them," said Olson, who was first baseman on St. Mary's 2009 state championship softball team. "I learned a lot from them, too. And my mentor—we all have mentors when we start out—Sheila O'Neil."
Although she was there in October to bask in the glow of Harrington bolting from a Level 4 to a Level 1 school in only four years, "that had already happened when I got here."
A Colby-Sawyer graduate in early childhood education who has begun the application process for her master's, Olson loved everything about Harrington.
"It's so rich in its culture," she said of the student population's diversity. "It's a great experience to learn from these children."
Olson is a believer in the "I do, we do, you do" method of teaching.
"I'll teach them something, and then we'll do it together, and then I ask them to do it themselves," she said.
One of the advantages in that, she said, is that you learn right away if your methods are working.
"You might present a plan, and when you try to teach it, it's not working," she said, "You constantly have to readjust."
She also feels children respond best when there's a daily routine.
"I think they need that," she said. "They know I'm always there to talk to them. I think they loved coming to school. I try to make learning fun."
Olson said that when she was a child, she didn't like school right away. It was only after she changed from the Sewell-Anderson school to the Landmark School in Beverly that she changed her outlook.
"I was in the fourth grade," she said, "and I had a teacher (Robert Stacey) who taught me how to study. She taught me that no matter who you are, you can learn.
"I fell in love with (school) after that," she said. "And that's when I wanted to be a teacher, so I could pass that onto other children."
As a result, she said, her goal is to know each child enough to teach individual learning strategies.
And while she, like most people, will look forward to the change of pace of the summer (she's on the staff at Campfire in Salem this summer) she is also looking forward to coming back this fall.
"The whole team's back," she said. "We work well together."
From the Daily Item