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Elementary school teacher recognized for excellence, and her students love her

Valley View Elementary School teacher regionally recognized by South Dakota Department of Education
Jennifer Macziewski helps a student read.
Jennifer Macziewski helps a student read.(Jeffrey Lindblom)
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 5:30 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Jennifer Macziewski is a teacher at Valley View Elementary in Rapid City, South Dakota.

She’s been teaching for 11 years.

She grew up in the Rapid City School District, and now is being recognized as a Regional Teacher of the Year by the South Dakota Department of Education. She says some of her past teachers have let her know how proud they are of her.

“They’re kids,” Mrs. Macziewski says, “and they’re only kids once. So, a lot of times it’s easy as a five, six or seven year old to be distracted by their shoe, or their hair or their friend.” That’s why she brings her students through the curriculum actively, because “learning is not a spectator sport. Anita Archer taught me that. You have to be involved in your learning in order to actually learn from it.”

That means looking, listening and participating, but she says “none of that really works unless they love learning and they’re having fun doing it.”

For some students, school doesn’t come so naturally to them. In fact, she says it’s a little difficult. “Every student comes in at a different point. There’s a spectrum of students who are here to learn. They know their job. They love it so much that they can’t help but learn, but there’s other ones that you do kind of have to ease them in, in order to draw them in.”

KOTA asked one of Mrs. Macziewski’s students, “do you like school?”

He responded, “kind of.”

KOTA asked, “what don’t you like about school?”

He said giggling, “Hm. There’s so much to choose from!”

Mrs. Macziewski tries to introduce and instill curiosity. “I read the room. If they are not participating ‚if they are slouched over -- what I am doing is actually the problem.”

For example, part of the curriculum is reading where some students have a natural knack for literature, like one of her students who says he “likes the books.”

While for others, it’s no walk in the park, “because,” another one of her students says, “sometimes I don’t know the words.”

That’s when her teaching ability shines. “I really have to get to know them.” She’s got a slew of tactics to get kids interested. “Another thing that I like to do is make it as playful as possible.” Which, her students don’t have to think too hard about whether or not they like that method, especially when Mrs. Macziewski’s lets it be with friends.

One of her students likes that, “because I get to play with them a lot.”

Sometimes. though... with all of the kids around her, she feels heavily outnumbered. Or, in her words “that there’s just not enough of me to go around.”

Her students, however, seem to have an understanding of what she’s doing for them. “She helps us to learn,” says one of her students. “You get to go to different grades,” says another.

A ladder Mrs. Macziewski likes to see her students climb, especially when they’re at the first prong, because “to see them become successful later in life is very valuable to me.”

She wishes she could do more, because she feels like the one of her isn’t enough, “the hardest part is just being outnumbered by all the sweet little cherubs in the room.”

Some students favorite part of school, though... is her.

“Because I like Mrs. Macziewski!”

“She’s really nice and she helps us calm down!”

“I like Ms. Macziewski. She’s nice!”

Her whole class yells, “thank you teachers!”

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