With so much to learn, students have some big strides to make in the second grade. Having a caring, creative teacher who makes learning fun is essential. This year, LCE welcomed aboard Mrs. Yoona Lee, an experienced teacher full of fresh ideas to engage her students.
While this is her first year teaching at LCUSD, it is her twelfth year working as as an elementary school teacher. Having already taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, she is very familiar with their standards and curriculum, so she knows exactly how to prepare these second graders for their upcoming years.
Mrs. Lee believes that interactive learning reinforces concepts and helps students retain information. She often combines subjects, such as science with music to aid in remembering important facts or writing with art, for students to have a visual aide of what they are describing. The possibilities are endless, especially when teachers collaborate with one another. As she explained, “When my class learned about fossils, we used plaster of Paris to make dinosaur sand castings, which was fellow second grade teacher Karen Gilmour’s idea. Students brushed off sand like they were geologists.”
These little geologists have continued to work together in groups to observe and classify rocks. Assisted by TOSA Jennifer Zine, they will be incorporating technology as they take their rock classification projects to the green screen in the iPad Lab to create video presentations.
Mrs. Lee also uses music as an effective mode of learning, “I play guitar with the kids. I’ll play a patriotic song like ‘The Star Spangled Banner,’ or the LCE school song. We’ll sing about the rock cycle to ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat.’ Hearing information in a tune really helps them remember.”
Eager to help her students succeed, she encourages her students to try new things, have a good attitude, and work hard to accomplish their goals; after all, she has benefited from taking a positive approach. While she grew up in a musical family and took piano lessons, she decided she wanted to learn to play the guitar. She taught herself with tabs and information she researched from the internet. Then, she saved enough money from her part-time jobs in college to buy her very first guitar--an electric guitar!
Her advice for learning new something new: “Practice, practice, practice. You have to enjoy it and have the right mindset, with anything. Look at things in a positive way. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It can take a long time to learn something. Just work harder.”
The same attitude applied to her education. She attended UC San Diego, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. While going to school, she would work for after-school programs and tutor. “Helping students with reading, writing, and math seemed very natural for me.” After graduating, she decided she would pursue a career in education and earned her teaching credential from CAL State University Northridge. After that, she taught for eleven years at LAUSD before joining the LCUSD community. Being a part of the second grade faculty has shown to be a great fit, “I really like teaching second grade. They have a heart to really learn and be engaged, and they really absorb the content we are learning.”
She does her best to build up those hearts throughout the year as each student takes a turn being the “The Celebrity of the Week.” She shared, “It’s a chance to celebrate them individually so they feel special. The student brings in an object and a favorite book to share and puts up a poster about themselves. Parents write the class a letter about their student and the students each write a letter about the celebrity, so that at the end of the week, that student has twenty-one letters to take home. I have this from when I was a kid, and I remember it. I think it’s really meaningful and powerful.”
Investing in both their personal growth and academic growth leads to a bigger payoff, “I have the most fun at the end of the year when I see the big change, that culmination of everything they have learned and how they have grown. It’s hard to see it every day, but when I compare and contrast the end and the beginning, that really gives me an idea of the difference teachers make.”
She practices what she teaches while working with her colleagues! Being bilingual, she speaks Korean and English and has often translated for other teachers in conferences with parents. Working together enables the supportive environment she appreciates most about LCE, “Everybody is here because they care. You can see it in conversations, friendships, and relationships among teachers and parents and administrators. Everyone has to work together for the common goal of providing the best education for the students who live in this community.”