Meet Melanie Slezak
What do you enjoy most about being a kindergarten teacher?
I am constantly energized by the excitement, curiosity, and wonder that kindergarteners have for learning. Year after year, the girls enjoy coming to school and consistently give their best effort to learning. In kindergarten, every day is different, which keeps me thinking and active.
Through a professional growth grant, you spent a summer developing curriculum for the Leadership Toolkit© for the Lower School. What was the result?
I worked to create activities for each of the nine traits in the Leadership Toolkit. The toolkit, and the symbols inside, are the foundation of our leadership lessons. The activities I compiled are ways to enhance and deepen the girls' understanding. They are hands-on, fun, and can be used with individuals or small groups. We know our girls are leaders, and these activities give them intentional opportunities to practice and demonstrate their growing leadership identities. I worked with Dr. Lisa Dissinger, our Lower School psychologist, to align the 4Cs of our Let's Care curriculum with the Leadership Toolkit. It has been a wonderful collaboration and the girls are learning important vocabulary and skills that connect friendship and social skills with leadership.
How has technology affected your classroom practices?
My students are already navigating advanced technological devices: five- and six-year-olds have access to the world in a way that children to decades ago did not. We use iPads and computers for small group lessons, which the girls enjoy because they get immediate feedback and are active participants in their learning. We also visit the iWonder Lab to work on design thinking and project-based learning projects. Technological advances increase students' accessibility to the world every day and create active learners.
What fun fact about you would surprise people?
I was an exchange student in Honduras in 1976. I took several years of French in high school and didn't know one word of Spanish when I was assigned to Central America. I truly learned Spanish by immersion. While there, I went to an all-girls school, learned to care for coffee bean and mango plants, and got used to seeing tarantulas on a regular basis.