Creating a Sense of Belonging Amongst Our Earliest Learners

The world has never been short of inspiring people singing the praises of working together and the power of community, from Nelson Mandela to Brené Brown and so many more. But one thing that isn’t often addressed is when we should start building that culture. As a preschool teacher, I’m here to bear witness to the power of cultivating community during early childhood, as soon as possible. 

I’ve learned many things in my career as an educator, but one of the most important lessons is that children need to feel safe, loved, and connected. Children who feel this way are able to learn better and self-regulate better, leading to more meaningful and healthy relationships with their academic content and with their peers. Before we dive into that, sometimes we need to hear the science—this isn’t just mushy stuff. It’s real and necessary. 

I once heard the brain compared to a car. The prefrontal lobe (where executive functioning happens) is the front seat. The limbic system (the emotional center) is the back seat.  The brain stem (the survival center) is the trunk.  If you’re in the trunk, you’re probably full of panic and fear and definitely can’t drive the car from there. If you’re in the back seat, you’re probably asking “Are we there yet?” or trying to be a back-seat driver, led by emotional stress. In the front seat, that’s where you can make a difference and get where you need to go. That’s where you need to be to access your critical thinking skills. But kids don’t always come to us in “the front seat.”

Many of our students are coming to us with traumatic experiences shaping their behaviors. They may be living in their brain stems or limbic systems, sometimes incapable of meeting the academic expectations we have put on them. We must understand this and create the safe place they need to thrive, guiding them to that “driver’s seat.” 

Brains are developing most rapidly between from birth to age 5, so if we can reach students then, we can help shape the patterns of their brains and wire them for long-term emotional success. 

But how do we do it?

We first create belonging. 

Personally, I take a leaf from the book of Dr. Becky Bailey, founder of Conscious Discipline, and work to create a “School Family” in my classroom. Everyone belongs, is safe, and is helpful to one another. Immediately, we are getting to know each other with meaningful play. I provide multiple daily opportunities for students to give each other eye contact, smiles, and appropriate physical touch, as well as having this opportunity to connect with teaching staff. We have routines and traditions that honor our absent friends, important jobs for everyone every day that contribute to the well-being of our class as a whole, and intentional activities that help us develop empathy for one another. These activities are on my lesson plan, just like academic content, but so many of them are already a part of the fabric of our classroom. A volunteer in my class once told me, “I don’t know what the kindergarten teacher is going to need to teach these kids, they are so well behaved!”  I replied, “They aren’t well behaved, they are well connected, and so very well loved.” 

My students are eager to help me, to help our community, and to help each other. They take these skills with them—they become a part of their makeup as a person and help them become people who have gifts for forging community in their later lives. Like Brené Brown said, “We don’t have to do it all alone. We were never meant to.”

To read more about Conscious Discipline, visit their website:


Tabatha Rosproy was an excellent student – so eager to learn, that in fact, she asked to go to summer school. As a child, regular classwork wasn’t enough, and teachers worked to give her additional enrichment activities to keep her engaged.  

Those activities, including stepping in as temporary substitute when the teacher had to leave the room, were her first taste of what it was like to be a teacher and set her on a path that decades later lead to the honor of being named 2020 National Teacher of the Year.  

To read more about Tabatha, follow this link:

Normalizing Struggle, Building Resilience

Resilience is easily misunderstood in schools and for obvious reasons. Teachers feel pressure to process, and students feel pressure to perform. Resilience seems like the antidote for lack of engagement, laziness, and disillusionment that too often plagues our students. Yet looking at resilience as a “try harder” attitude in our students undermines its purpose and its power. Resilience is far more nuanced in how it’s cultivated and when it appears in our learners. Contrary to conventional thinking, it’s not the ability to avoid failure; rather, it’s the willingness to grow from it. Learning doesn’t happen without struggle. Resilience understands this and relies on it. Let’s look at how teachers can bring resilience into their classrooms.


Establish Trust

Resilience is largely based on the ability to take risks. Think of it like building a muscle. Muscles don’t strengthen without breaking them down first. The strength comes from the repair. The same is true for students and learning. They can’t become more resilient if everything is easy or if failure is precluded. Yet in order to be willing to struggle and take risks, our students must trust that their failure isn’t going to be used against them, either through shame or grades assigned too early in the process. As teachers, we must do the hard work of creating trust with and among our students. 

I’m not suggesting lots of ice breaker activities that too often create superficial community. Instead, it’s taking the time to teach students how to talk to each other, how to see each other and how to see themselves as part of the larger purpose of learning in the classroom.


Normalize Struggle

School has somehow taught our students when the learning is easy, they’re smart and when the learning is tough, they aren’t. As teachers we must be vulnerable enough to show and talk about how we also struggle as learners. (And if we can’t find an example of this, then we probably have settled into too much of our own complacency.) Students aren’t going to trust the person they can’t relate to. In order for them to risk the struggle that always precedes resilience, they need to believe it’s a skill you can strengthen and acquire, not a magical gift that’s bestowed on some and not others. 

Students need to know struggle is not a sign of weakness, it’s the signal that learning and growth are ahead if they’re willing to keep going. 


Failure without Penalty

I have been in far too many meetings and conversations where a central misunderstanding about resilience is perpetuated. I often hear teachers describe resilience as the student who fails the test and then is willing to make correction or commits to trying harder next time by studying more or paying better attention in class. At the heart of this confusion is the belief that overcoming struggle comes at the end of a learning progression instead of being instrumental to its process. In other words, students must be able to fail without penalty. I don’t mean giving a quiz and then not grading it (although that could be a first step), but rather embracing a process of learning where every student may necessarily have to come up with their own hypothesis for the problem or their own topic for a paper. Learning to think is tough, and we’re not doing our students any favors by making that part easy for them. Instead, we can learn beside them, giving them time and space to try out ideas before they get too far into their processes.

If students feel like every time they make a mistake or that the stakes are too high, then they won’t take the risk. As teachers, we can elevate student processes when we say things like, “I just talked with Ivan and he told me about how he’s changing his idea. Ivan, can you tell us about your thinking?” Or maybe it’s in the course of a discussion and a student is way off, but as teachers we know that as soon as student feels shamed in front of their peers, we won’t hear that voice again. So we say something like, “I’m really curious about how you got to this point in your thinking. Walk us through it.” 

Assessment, designing instruction and the feedback we give all impact whether or not we’re creating a space for resilience to grow and thrive. 


Living Resilience

If we want our students to be resilient, we must also put ourselves in the way of struggle. In fact, unless we understand what it means to struggle, we’ll most likely just assign tasks and tell students what to do. If we want to really teach, then we must understand how it feels to get stuck or confused or overwhelmed. If we want to teach, to differentiate, to personalize, to intervene, then we have to know what it feels like to struggle at the very thing we’re teaching. 

You can give this a try by doing your own assignments, but with new problems or content you’re unfamiliar with. The goal is to feel the way your students feel when they’re doing the work you’re asking of them. Most importantly, shared struggle creates empathy and understanding, the necessary qualities for any space dedicated to building resilience.

Remember, it’s not our perfection, but our vulnerability, humility, and mistakes that do the best teaching.


Sarah Brown Wessling is a 23-year veteran of the high school English classroom. While a member of the faculty at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa she has taught courses ranging from at-risk to Advanced Placement and has served the department and district in a variety of leadership roles. Sarah is a National Board Certified Teacher since 2005 and in 2010 was selected as the National Teacher of the Year. In that capacity she worked as an ambassador for education, giving over 250 talks and workshops in 39 different states as well as internationally. Currently she maintains a hybrid teaching position which keeps her in the classroom and allows her to write, speak and work on teacher leadership initiatives around the country. She is an author of Supporting Students in a Time of Core Standards and maintains a blog with the column “Ask Sarah” at

How to Build Community with Families

I was talking to my friend, a kindergarten teacher, last week. She was sharing with me the challenges of teaching virtually while we were planning a virtual family engagement event. She was certain she could not do the work without the support of parents. “I feel like I am team teaching with parents this year,” she said. I wondered why we, teachers and parents, don’t feel that urgency to connect with the same kind of partnership, pandemic or not. 

I am a teacher. My husband is a teacher. Most of my friends are teachers and yet, in advance of a school conference for my own children, I felt vulnerable and small. I am not alone. Conferences are not only a meeting between teacher and parent to discuss a child’s progress. Conferences can be perceived by many parents as meetings to evaluate a parent’s ability to parent. No wonder parents come in defensive. 

I am an educated professional. I own a home and two cars. It has been a long time since I have needed to check prices at the grocery store before I purchase an item. I have clothes to wear even when the laundry has piled up. Even so, I still fret over what to wear when I attend a function at school. I want to fit in when I walk into a school, and I do. 

Imagine the parent for whom a conference has been scheduled, but who does not have the financial ability to even consider attending. What if they have no way to get there? Do they take a taxi? Is public transportation an option? If the parent does manage to get to school, how many times are they asked for money before the conference starts? Join PTA! Pick up a fundraising packet! Stop by the book fair!

If and when that parent comes to school, we often skip the pleasantries to report data and behavior concerns to them. We may speak a language they do not understand and ignite a feeling of inadequacy in them. They leave doubting why they came. What would happen at a parent-teacher conference if we led with relationships rather than data? Here are four ideas for a more welcoming, more successful parent-teacher conference:

  1. Conferences need a greeter, someone to welcome families to school and point them in the direction of the classroom. This person should be genuine, kind, and just the right amount of enthusiastic. 
  2. Conferences need to be relationship-based. Job one for the teacher is to see the parent and the child as people. 
  3. Conferences are best when we assume the best in one another. 
  4. Teachers need a list of guiding questions to begin to establish an equal relationship with parents. Here are just a few suggestions. 
  • Tell me about your son’s name. How did you decide on it?
  • Your son is in second grade! What do you remember about second grade?
  • Now I can see where your daughter gets it! Her _________ is/are just like yours!
  • I appreciate __________________ about your child. How did you teach him to do that?
  • We are working on listening in the classroom; tell me what strategies work for you at home?
  • How do you chill out as a family? What helps your child calm down?
  • It looks like ______ is crazy about that ________! Tell me the story behind that. 
  • Building a community in the classroom is important to me. I need lots of helpers to do that. What kinds of skills does your child have to contribute?
  • When I need to address misbehavior, what suggestions do you have to be effective with your child?
  • What are your hopes for me as your child’s teacher? What are your hopes for your child as my student?

Each new school year provides the opportunity to engage with families in real, human ways. When we connect with one another through a lens of caring for the children we share and are willing to meet parents where they are, we open up the possibility to connect with families in real, lasting ways. Loosely translated, the Sanskrit greeting namaste has taken on the meaning of “I see the best in you.” When I meet parents for the first time, I think Mamaste or Papaste, grounding myself in a space of respect for who they are and what they bring to our relationship. 


For over thirty years, I have worked side by side with parents, families, educators, and businesses helping to connect people and build stronger, more vital communities. People inspire me and have driven my educational and career choices. I have a BSW and a Parent Education license from Winona State University, a master’s degree in Education from University of Wisconsin–LaCrosse, and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Public Policy and Advocacy from Walden University.

My  work takes me to all sorts of places, schools, community groups, churches, businesses, conventions, and conferences. For me, a great day  includes speaking to small or large groups of people who like to learn and love to laugh. People learn best when they are engaged in a powerful story that challenges their thought process and touches their emotions. No one loves to tell a story more than I do.

4 Ways to Create a Community with Families

Gamers, Dead Heads, and college football fans—what do these all have in common? They’re all communities. 

Throughout life everybody strives to find a place within various groups, which are defined (amidst myriad features) by shared history, location, faith, interest, race, or occupation. Education is no exception, as schools are one of the earliest communities to which many people belong. And they can also be among the most important. 

That’s why it is crucial for educators to recognize that—like it or not—they play a vital role in building the community to which students and their families belong. Here are four tenets that can move your school further in the direction of a culture of community.

Invite Involvement

Participation in group activities or rituals, for example, choral singing, gives us a boost of positive brain chemicals—a surge of endorphins associated with the group experience—according to author Dan Pink in his book When. In effect, doing things as a group makes you feel more a part of the group; and, in turn, feeling more a part of the group motivates you to do things with the group. So initiate this productive cycle by creating experiences in which families can participate—in person or virtually—with one another. A team trivia tournament, a sing-along concert, or a game night could be just the thing your school needs to build a positive feedback loop in your community. 

(Click!) Take a Pic

Seeing through one another’s eyes is one way to enhance a feeling of inclusion. One way to do so is to choose several students from different backgrounds that reflect the demographics of the school and equip them with a camera for a day. Ask them to snap photos of what they experience and notice throughout the day and ask them to provide at least 10 pics that represent their day. Compare the photos from each student to determine patterns of what they paid attention to learn what they might find important. Use that information to inform what you do to make the school a more inclusive and inviting community.

Set the Table

Food has a unique ability to bring people together. Regardless of the cultural landscape of a group of individuals, there is something connective about sharing a meal together. That is why most major holidays around the world have traditions built upon eating. Even some of the world’s major religions make sacred rituals out of food and drink. So why not leverage this existing cultural element in the school community? Try hosting a pizza party, a pancake breakfast, or an ice cream social. If you don’t like carbs as much, consider a barbecue!

Make It Easy for Members to Contribute

Simply belonging to a community isn’t enough. Sooner or later, we want to find our own place within it. And being part of a group means not just getting something out of membership, but also contributing to it. For families to feel part of a school community, there must be opportunities for them to take action. Service projects allow students and families to give of their time to build up others. Talent shows can highlight the special gifts of students but also bring together families to share in the celebration of those abilities. Fundraising events can provide a means for families to share their treasure with others and place a value on altruism in your school community.    

In the end, no matter how you create it, the significance of having a culture of community in schools cannot be overstated. It can make the difference between success and failure for many students, and it can be a crucial step toward engendering the support of families to achieve the mission and vision of the school. 


Gary Abud is an educational consultant, author, and award-winning educator. He is also a double cornea transplant recipient who, after having his sight restored, was moved to use his teaching gifts to make learning exciting for others. From classroom teaching to school administration, and now private practice consulting, Gary has pursued his goal of helping individuals, families, and teams harness their learning power in personal, professional, and academic life through executive coaching, corporate training, and public speaking. He lives with his family near Detroit. Gary is the 2014 Michigan Teacher of the Year.

On Anger and Equity

Recently, I published a middle-grade children’s book called What Is White Privilege?  While checking Twitter a few days after it had garnered some attention, I discovered a barrage of angry messages calling for actions to discredit my book and my name.  After processing my initial shock, I remembered that the reality is that visible equity work incites anger and hatred. What is critical is that we explore why this happens and how we can respond to it, particularly in the context of the classroom and for the hearts of our students.

First let’s consider anger and hatred.  It can be rooted deeply in poor teaching, misunderstanding, separation, and fear, but ultimately, it is rooted in pride.  All of this bars us from seeing each other as fully human.  And while I want to sometimes just say, “Haters gonna hate.” I know that is not a solution because hate has consequences, particularly when it’s sourced by people in positions of power.  Hate leads to rage, to disengagement, bias, isolation, racism, bad policy, corrupt systems, violence, and generational hatred that perpetuates bad systems and hurts people.  It is both the storming of the Capitol and the passivity and the excuses made for those storming the Capitol.  It is both the bombing of Black churches and buses, the destruction of Black bodies and communities, and the turning of a blind eye to these violent atrocities.

Where might this type of anger and hatred come from?  I want to speak specifically to white folks here.  I am one, and, for the past six years, my work for equity and racial justice has focused predominantly on educating white students in a way that impacts hearts, minds, and, as they move into the world, systems. What I have discovered is that hatred and anger that lead to violence and oppression stem from a false belief in one’s personal superiority, desire for power, and in one’s belief of deserving better. Just consider the term “white supremacy.” Derived from the Latin term supremus, meaning “highest,” is the term refers to an ultimate and evil elevation of the white race.  When that belief or elevation that one puts their hope in is threatened (perceived or in actuality), anger and hatred erupt as one believes they are being robbed of something which they are owed.  This, I believe, is at the root of white supremacy, and it hurts all people, even the supremacists.

So what can we do?  How can we address this kind of anger and hatred?  Our classrooms are the front lines.  Here, we must teach about human dignity—the innate characteristic in each of us that exists simply because we are human.  Though we each carry around a pile of imperfections and struggle and hurt, we are each distinctly and wonderfully made, and as educators we can honor that in students and help them see it in others.  In an article titled “When I Recognized Race,” writer Rayshawn Graves describes the time someone in his mostly white classroom told him “Being Black is not cool.”  When Graves told his parents, his father told him to respond with “Black is Beautiful.” (Side note: Check out the book Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan to hear your kids chanting that statement).  Graves reflected on his father’s suggestion in this way: “What my Dad did in that moment wasn’t an attempt to build my pride on the insufficient hope of my skin color or ethnicity. He wasn’t doing this to proclaim that to be Black is to be better than everyone else. Rather, he was dignifying something that had been downtrodden.”

How do we “dignify something that has been downtrodden” in our classroom? In our schools, we need to acknowledge that what we teach and the way we teach can recognize or deny the dignity of students in our classrooms, our communities, and our nation. As we consider how to uplift the dignity of students of color, intentionally educating our white students is an important step. The suggestions below are made with that in mind but can be easily adapted for classrooms with varying demographics.

Consider curriculum. A large part of elevating the dignity of all people is teaching curriculum that accurately reflects the diverse experiences of all people.  From children’s books to history books, from math story problems to the pictures of scientists hanging on the wall, there is room for diversification and representation.

Consider demographics. In a highly segregated school system such as ours, fear thrives because we are not in authentic relationships with people who are different from us.  Partner with schools with different student demographics.  Do this in authentic ways, not in service, but in partnership.  Give up the power of your podium, and bring in experts from varying racial and ethnic backgrounds to teach your students.  Learning from people elevates the dignity of people.

Consider bias. Walk your students through addressing personal biases.  Model vulnerability by considering your own and how your biases might impact what you teach, the way you teach, and how you respond to different students. Talk about recognizing and responding to those biases.

Consider feelings. As anger or pain or sorrow arises from these new topics and experiences, press into those feelings.  Help students or staff understand them and work through them. Explain the difference between righteous and unrighteous anger.  Discuss how we can and should be angry at things that are atrocious and wrong, and how that anger can serve as a catalyst for change.  Then, figure out how to make that change in a way that doesn’t mimic the abuser.

Consider discourse. Help your students strategize to have conversations with people who are in disagreement with them.  Teach them how to actively listen, respond, source-check, and move toward people with compassion in a way that might quench the anger.

What could our world look like if we could see others not just as citizens with a constitutional right to equality, but as humans innately and uniquely sharing equally in dignity?  What could our world look like if our anger wasn’t a result of feeling our superiority (i.e., privilege) threatened, but a result of seeing someone else’s dignity denied?  What could our world look like if these were the lessons taught in schools and classrooms? What we teach in our classrooms matters.  May we strive to help our students change the world by helping them see that each one of them holds unique and innate dignity.



Leigh Ann is the proud sister, daughter and granddaughter of teachers. She has taught in rural, suburban, and urban schools witnessing the disparities that exist in U.S. Education and working to dismantle those disparities. She is the founder and principal of Undone Education Consulting and the Undone Movement which works with teachers across the nation to end educational inequity.That work includes teaching predominantly white student populations to recognize historical truth and privilege and dismantle systemic racism. To do this, Leigh Ann developed an extensive curriculum and created the Connect, Absorb, Respond, and Empower (CARE) conference which brings authentic and relationship building conversations about race and bias into high schools. She earned a Bachelors in English and Spanish from the University of Delaware and Masters in Teaching from Pace University. She was a 2019 finalist for Iowa Teacher of the Year. Erickson is grateful to play a small part in a conversation about race and equity that has been happening in this country for centuries.

Live, Work, and Play with our Littlest to Build Community

In second grade, we teach that a community is a group of people who live, work, and play together. Quite often, once this definition has been explored within the first few introductory lessons of my Communities Unit, one or more children exclaim, “Hey, then we are a community!”And how right they are!

Given those quaint parameters—“live, work, and play together”—how do teachers of our earliest learners build that community within their classrooms?


Let us be honest here. School is our children’s lives. When I think back to kindergarten, first, or second grade, I remember that school and home were my life, and I made no separation of the two in my mind. This is why when I think of our students as living in the classroom, I keep in mind the saying “Maslow before Bloom.” Building a community starts with caring for one another’s basic needs. As kids come into the classroom each morning, I take note of who looks happy or sad, who seems hungry, who doesn’t have a snack on their desk. I’m sure I’m not the only teacher who has a snack stash in the closet! It’s important to address each child’s basic needs right away so that they have the best possible start no matter the situation from which they are coming each day. Littlest Learners come to school with their whole worlds on their minds—and you are an essential part of making that world a happy, safe place to be.


We work the whole time! That is our classroom motto. The operative word in our motto is “we.” Building community means capitalizing on the children’s sense of “we” within the classroom. That is why “we” is a major part of our learning in several ways.

Classroom management involves a “we” mentality. When we discuss our rules or expectations in the beginning of the year, I am sure to include the students in discussions about how the expectations affect us as a class and the “why” behind whatever we choose to put on our classroom expectation chart. Whether you use rules, a vision, expectations, or something else, explaining the “we” behind every part of your chart—how it affects our class as a whole and each student individually—helps students to know it’s not just about the individual, but about the collective group.

Learning and assessment are prime opportunities to build community. At this age, children are brilliant! They have few boundaries and their thinking is wide open. Encourage children to ask questions during every lesson. Say, “What questions do you have?” instead of “Are there any questions?” be sure to include every voice in an anchor chart—by picking sticks out of a bag or some other way to keep track—to show students that their voices matter. Review student work (anonymously) as a class to analyze and determine strengths and needs. Post student work as a class on a bulletin board to show that effort is valued as part of the collective “we,” Work toward goals together that could also be rewards, such as a dance party for reading a certain number of minutes or everyone turning in their homework on time for the week. And finally, celebrate both individual accomplishments like becoming a “Facts Master” and class accomplishment like “2,000 Minutes Achieved” on your math website.


Children learn through play. They connect through play. They thrive through play! Don’t forget to play!

Play is a healthy part of children’s brain development. It is how they connect to each other, learn to engage with others socially, and most importantly, get the chance to laugh out loud. There are many, many ways to play in a classroom!  You could play educational games or simply good old-fashioned classroom games. In these times of COVID-19, having no-contact games is essential, so here are a few:

“Hot Seat”: For this vocabulary game, a child sits in front of the class, you hold up a vocabulary word behind them, and the class gives them clues to the word until they guess it.

Charades: This is a great game for teaching verbs or emotions.

Simon Says: This classic game is great for teaching kids to tune in to directions.

Freeze Dance: Turn on the music and DANCE! Turn off the music and freeze.

Draw a Monster: You describe a monster, and the kids draw it. This is great for adjectives and following directions. When you are done, look to see how similar everyone’s drawings are!

Building a culture of community among our earliest learners means helping them to understand how they fit in as a piece of the puzzle that is your classroom. We give our littlest learners a community by providing safe space where their needs are met, by helping them use their voice to learn and lift other learning, and by connecting to their classmates through play and laughter.



Katie Ferguson is a wife, sister, aunt, and teacher. She spent most of her life growing up in Schenectady and proudly graduated from Mont Pleasant High School in 1992. Her college of choice was SUNY Oneonta, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. Upon returning to Schenectady, Katie attended Sage Graduate School to achieve her Masters of Science in Education, became certified in Special Education, and began her career doing what she loves most- working with children.

Katie has had a passion for teaching since she joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School of Math, Science, Technology, and Invention as a first grade teacher in 1998.  She was awarded the Red Apple Quality of Life Award in 1998 and 1999. In 2003-2004 Katie’s class participated in more than ten videoconferences with museums and institutes across the country such as the Buffalo Zoo and The Ocean Institute in California through Project VIEW. Her work with videoconferencing was highlighted in an excerpt in Teaching K-8, the Daily Gazette, and in a case study by the Evaluation Consortium at the University at Albany.

In 2007, Katie joined the Jessie T. Zoller Elementary School as a 2nd grade teacher.  In May, 2010, Katie was awarded Teacher of the Year by the Schenectady City School District, which led to her being selected as the 2012 New York State Teacher of the Year. In February of 2013 she was named an NEA Pearson Global Learning Fellow and received the California Casualty Award for Excellence. Katie is a proud member of Delta Kappa Gamma and was recognized as the Delta Kappa Woman of Distinction in 2015.

Katie has also had the privilege of collaborating with teachers from around New York State. She was a member of the Commissioner’s Advisory Council from 2012 until 2017. She is currently a member of the New York State Teacher of the Year Council as well as the Professional Standards and Practices Board with New York State Education Department.  Katie is National Board Certified as an Early Childhood Generalist.

In addition to teaching, Katie enjoys spending time at home with her husband, two cuddly cats, and five sugar gliders. In her spare time she loves to read, turn old chairs into hand-painted treasures, and volunteer with a local kitten foster organization.