The first time anyone looks through Mrs. Cathy Condie's hall leading to her exciting classroom, they see artwork that looks like it should be in a museum but is created by every student in her fourth grade class! Every year as a parent, I look at the art even if my kids are not in her class just because it's so spectacular. Once anyone steps into her classroom, they know instantly that her passion is teaching. She has her room themed as "All the World is a Stage." There are paintings, trinkets, interesting objects with different nationality themes from all over the world. She even has ukuleles that the class can learn to play as rewards for stellar work.
One day, I was helping with a project in Mrs. Condie's classroom and listened as she taught. Many kids sat down first thing even before school started, looked at the board with their assignments on it, and got to work. Once the bell rang, everyone was focused and listening to this amazing teacher. She was explaining a wide variety of material over an hour or so of surprisingly advanced material in writing and math while giving out assignments. The students worked diligently. I noticed Mrs. Condie going around helping a large number of students especially the struggling ones. She would comment on some of their writing and had selected students to read their work to the class. The kids were getting restless so she put some soothing music on to listen to. She then started talking about Vincent Van Gogh. His life, art posted on her wall, and style of art came to life through her words. It reminded me of my Humanities class in college! The kids seemed mesmerized.
I asked my son why he liked Mrs. Condie so much. He said, "She teaches us stuff so many different ways that we all understand what she is teaching." Just like a parent she is a teacher that wants each child to live up to their potential no matter what their ability is! Her teaching style is so fast paced that children listen and are rewarded for their outstanding work. Discipline problems are minimal, because the kids don't have much time to talk or get into mischief.
One day my son told me that he has changed the way he holds his pencil. I asked him why. He responded, "Mrs. Condie made me redo a couple of assignments, because my writing was too sloppy. I decided that I better change my writing because I don't want to redo my assignments again." What a miracle! I have been trying to get him to improve his handwriting since kindergarten!
At the first of the year, many of the students were sometimes forgetting to write their names on their papers. My son had this problem a few times in other grades. After he and his classmates got their papers thrown away and had to redo their assignments, the problem was solved. The children knew she was being fair and didn't even seem to complain.
My son also made another positive comment about Mrs. Condie, "We get rewards for doing good things in class." Many times if they act great as a class, they can do fun things in the afternoon such as an extra recess or a fun art project. The kids work hard and many times are rewarded with educational fun. Individual kids can earn other rewards like sitting in the massage chair, bringing treats for their team, sitting by the teacher, choosing games for inside recess, or sitting by a friend for 1 day. She is adamant on each student turning in all of their work and behaving well in school. If children turn in all their work throughout the week and act appropriately, they get Friday fun which is an additional art project. Those who are not caught up on their school work get favored with extra time to catch up or read a book if they had attitude problems.
My son explained to me that she teaches life skills such as using good manners, proper language, appreciation for privileges they are given, and becoming responsible students.
My neighbor told me that her son had Mrs. Condie. He was not the best student. After learning the habits of an A student in Mrs. Condie's class, he became an A student and continues his good habits in junior high. Years after having Mrs. Cathy Condie, he still talks about the great year he had in fourth grade. I hope this will be the case with my son and his classmates!