Director of Teaching & Learning Miles Azzeh's Academic Spotlight: Cindy Willis
Our Lansing USD 469 teachers are incredible at engaging our students in fantastic learning opportunities to reach their full potential every day in our district. To highlight and bring recognition to this great work, Director of Teaching and Learning Miles Azzeh will be regularly shining a spotlight on a stand-out teacher through "academic spotlights."
For the last year and a half, Miles has been highlighting the amazing instructional work that our teachers are doing with your students. These “Academic Spotlights” showcase the outstanding work our teachers are doing in their classrooms each day.
This week's academic spotlight shines on teacher Cindy Willis, an outstanding early childhood teacher who invited me to observe a phonemic awareness lesson with her students. Watching her and her two paraprofessionals, Paige Brandt and Jessica Waters, was such a joy.
One engaging activity the kids loved was the nursery rhyme "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider." Cindy turned this rhyme into an interactive learning experience. The children recited the rhyme while taking turns using yarn to "pull" the spider up a pretend waterspout. This innovative activity blended rhyming practice with motor skill development, letting kids learn by doing, which Cindy encapsulates by saying: "Mindful and Engaged equals learners who THRIVE."
Cindy, Paige, and Jessica continued the learning by doing color naming, the first letter of names, and a counting activity. The kids were engaged and having a blast the entire time, which is exactly what we want to see for kids entering "school" for the first time.
Yet, what truly stands out is the commitment by these three educators to create a nurturing environment, one in which relationships and kindness are developed to help kids love their classroom and genuinely want to come back the next day. I can say this works, because I also want to return and engage in the fun!
"Mrs. Cindy is a teacher you can always count on to make a relationship with each and every student she has. She sets clear expectations with the flexibility of understanding that our children are just that, children," said Paige Brandt.
"My boys both came through Cindy's class, and I always knew that they were loved, learning and having fun! Now I see why and am enjoying getting to work alongside her," said Jessica Waters.
Thank you to Cindy, Paige, and Jessica for shaping the lives of these young learners.