It is said you can tell a lot about someone by what they do for others.
For Millbridge Elementary School teacher Kristin Howe, the journey to education mirrored her own personal path through school, one that at times she found difficult. She vowed to become a teacher so school would not be hard on others.
Her determinaton to impact as many students as possible has earned her the 2020 Millbridge Elementary School Teacher of the Year award.
“It was wonderful to be acknowledged,” Howe noted. “I think everyone here at Millbridge could be teacher of the year because we do so much that goes unrecognized. We’re dedicated, we work hard, we put a lot of compassion and time in our job.
“It was a nice pat on the back for me, but I also contribute this to my colleagues like Beth Cohen,” Howe added. “She has been a big mentor for me and if I didn’t have colleagues like her I don’t think I would be here where I am today.”
Howe’s mother was a fourth grade teacher who first sparked her daughter’s interest in teaching. Howe recalls role playing as a teacher when she was a child at Millbridge and even upon graduating from Delran High School, where she received an award for involvement in a child development course.
During her time as a student at Delran, Howe also had a couple of teachers who made learning fun. Their teaching wasn’t just about academics, but also about the social and emotional parts of learning.
Upon graduating from Rowan University, Howe ironically found herself back at Millbridge with the same mission as the teachers who inspired her to make learning fun and meaningful.
“I’ve always worked with children,” she said. “I just knew that I was a children type of person. You have to have patience and be kind, but you also have to have fun and understand them.
“Kindergarten today is so different than when I went to school,” Howe added. “Expectations are high so it’s hard and challenging at times, but it’s also very rewarding and exciting. Especially when you see their eyes glow up and they’re like, ‘Wow, I can write’ or ‘I can read now.’”
According to Howe, kindergarten has changed in the sense that it is no longer just about dramatic play and naps. It is a more rigorous curriculum that asks a lot from 5 year olds.
“I like having fun with the kids and getting down to their level,” Howe explained. “I’m always sitting on the floor with them and trying to have fun, laugh and giggle. I like seeing them grow in so many ways. Not only as a child growing height wise, but seeing them grow as a reader, writer, thinker and a friend.
“There’s so many ways that they grow throughout the school year.”