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Teacher of the Month: Lynn Kalemkiarian

This month’s featured teacher is Lynn Kalemkiarian, a reading recovery teacher at Huntington Elementary School in Lincoln, NE.

Lynn has been a presence at Huntington Elementary School in Lincoln, NE for nearly three years. She spent time as a volunteer first grade reading assistant, and will be working full time as the school’s reading recovery teacher starting in September 2013. The reason the kids (and adults) are always happy to see Lynn is that she always has her canine companion, Barney, by her side. Students have loved reading to Barney, and Lynn is looking forward to having Barney there as her assistant instructor this fall.

Lynn began using the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum last year in the school’s After School Community Learning Center. She worked with a small group of 1st and 2nd grade children, all of which has special needs of some kind. “The kids loved it.” Lynn says. “It made them feel special. It was such a fun, interactive, and refreshing change!” Lynn also engaged the families of the Mutt-i-grees students by using the “Letters to Send Home” that are included in the Curriculum. The students especially liked two activities from Achieving Awareness – “What I Like About You” and “What I Like About Me”. Lynn even went the next step by inviting in a local yoga instructor, yogurt shop owner, and staff from a local arts center to engage the students in the community (Barney is a big fan of yogurt, and was more than happy to help clean up). The kids made poster board thank you notes to acknowledge the time people spent working with the group.

What sets Lynn apart is her inventiveness in working with the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum. Since the students often need exercise after a long school day, Lynn developed “Walk, Talk and Cuddle” sessions for the kids to walk Barney, talk about their day, and end the session by giving Barney a treat and a hug. Lynn even went so far as to help Barney write three notes to each participant. The first was meant to let the kids know, “I’m so glad you’re in the club!” The second was a note where Barney noticed how the students were growing during their sessions. The third note contained a positive message from Barney that identified positive character traits that each child displayed.

“I like the Curriculum because it’s easy to implement and adapt and the materials were affordable and easy to get. It gave the students an opportunity to practice being nice, and best of all, I got to involve Barney!” As far as advice, Lynn recommends, “drawing in the community. Contact them ASAP! Try your best to get the administrative team fired up to get school-wide implementation, and get a group of teachers in the same grade to implement Mutt-i-grees so it can make the biggest impact!”

To read more about Lynn and Barney, you can read this article from the Lincoln Journal Star.

Congratulations to Lynn and Barney Kalemkiarian for being such excellent teacher role models!

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