ELK GROVE, CA - Fractions can leave fourth-graders frazzled, but not when Suzanne Mifsud is at the head of the class.
She uses an array of music button timers, little sayings and even lets students stand on their chairs and chant.
She even mimics well-known characters as she loudly states, "The denominator. Get down!! That's how we remember it right?" Mifsud laughed as she explained, "When we say 'the denominator. Get down' (I'm doing it) like Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his movies. I want the kids to remember the denominator. Get down. The bottom of the fraction."
Nine years ago, Mifsud said she started teaching at Joseph Sims Elementary School in Elk Grove. She grew up in the town and said she's wanted to teach since age 5.
"I wanted to be a teacher since day one of kindergarten," Mifsud said. "My first day in kindergarten, I went with my little group and read a book to them holding the book upside down."
She's realized her life-long goal and now makes a connection with students on a daily basis.
"I love just to see that light bulb come one and watch them feel enthusiastic about school and love it," Mifsud said. "I love to take them from where they're starting to where they're going to end up at the end of the grade level."
Along the way, her students get to go on an overnight trip to a camp that demonstrates what life was like in the 1850s. Mifsud said the students love dressing up in pioneer clothes and cooking their meals.
Parents aren't left out either. Mifsud sends a weekly bulletin home.
"It highlights birthdays and includes a curriculum corner which gives parents a quick overview of what we've been doing in school and what we plan to do next week," she said.
Mifsud also plasters numerous pictures of her students on classroom walls and their stories.
"I want them to get a love for learning and a love for school. I also want them to know their teacher loves them," she said.
by Karen Massie, firstname.lastname@example.org