Living out her dream job
When Megan Blake was in kindergarten she was busy playing school in her basement.
"I pretended I was a teacher when I was little, since we had an old fashioned desk in our basement so I just always played school," she said. "I kind of knew when I was little that I wanted to be a teacher since my mom's a teacher."
Blake, who is a Woodbury resident, has stopped playing and has started doing the real thing now that she is a kindergarten teacher at Bailey Elementary.
"I've always kind of been excited about being a teacher," she said. "Any kindergarten teacher is setting the foundation for school so it's an important job and you have to go above and beyond."
The Woodbury Chamber of Commerce has named Blake the 2010 "Elementary Educator of the Year." Blake will receive her award during the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce's annual Gala on Jan. 21 at the Prom Center in Oakdale.
"I was really surprised, really honored and really humbled," she said. "It was absolutely an honor."
A day full of smiles
Blake received her teaching degree from Augustana College in Sioux Falls South Dakota. It wasn't until her senior year, during her student teaching, that Blake decided that kindergarten was for her.
Blake had to student teach in kindergarten, second grade and middle school. First up was kindergarten.
"I student taught in kindergarten and I was done," she said, "I knew that was what I wanted to do."
Blake got her job at Bailey Elementary right out of college nine years ago.
Blake said her favorite aspects of being a kindergarten teacher is the amount of fun she gets to have every day.
"You laugh all the time," she said. "I'm happy all day long.
"I love to just come to school and have a good time and enjoy the kids."
Blake said she always goes home with stories from her day and she instantly shares them with friends and family.
"Every year is different since there's a new group of kids which means new stories and new challenges," she said. "It's really fun to challenge the kids and find new ways of doing things."
The foundations of education
Since kindergarten does set the foundation for a child's education career, Blake said it is important to make it fun so the students stay engaged.
Many of Blake's teaching techniques include songs, puppets, images and other visual or interactive teaching tools.
"You're setting the tone for school so you have to find anyway to keep the student engaged," she said. "You have to go above and beyond with the curriculum."
Blake said the biggest challenge in teaching kindergarten is having students coming into school with different skills and knowledge bases.
"Some kids come in already reading and writing and some kids can't write their name," she said. "You have this huge gap and you have to decide what to do with that huge gap.
"The students are all in different spots when they start the year so you have to find each kids personality and find what's going to click with each kid."
Blake said she has no intention of teaching any other grade, or at any other school.
"I love my job," she said. "I always go home happy."
The Woodbury Chamber of Commerce's "Lets Paint the Town" Annual Gala will be Jan. 21 from 6-10 p.m. at the Prom Center in Oakdale. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.woodburychamber.org