Teacher Spotlight: Lakeview Elementary’s Sarah Kaminski.

May 4, 2021

Teacher Spotlight: Lakeview Elementary’s Sarah Kaminski.

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, staff writer.

Teacher Spotlight is a presentation of Shelby State Bank, with offices in Ludington, Pentwater, Shelby, Hart, Hesperia, Manistee, Montague, Whitehall, North Muskegon, and Fruitport. 

LUDINGTON – Ludington Area Schools teacher, Sarah Kaminski didn’t see herself staying in Ludington long after she moved here in 2008. But after spending some time here, she quickly fell in love with the area.

“I attended Quince Orchard High School in Maryland and graduated in 2002,” she said. “I joined the National Guard as a military police officer my senior year and went to basic training right after I graduated. Shortly after my return from basic training, my unit was deployed to Afghanistan. My college education was put on hold until 2004, when I then went to Salisbury University in Maryland and graduated in 2008 with two bachelor’s degrees in early and elementary education. In 2008, I moved to Ludington to be closer to my family after getting out of the military during my first ETS. I didn’t see it as long term but quickly fell in love with the charm of Ludington and the family-like atmosphere of the school district.”

Before starting her career at Ludington Area Schools, Kaminski did some substitute teaching work as well as working as an early childhood teacher.

“I have been teaching for 13 years,” she said. “I started my educational career by substituting for two years and teaching preschool for two years before moving to Ludington Area Schools. The last nine I have spent at Lakeview Elementary. My first year I taught overflow kindergarten for a large incoming class. The next year I had the opportunity to move to first grade and quickly fell in love.”

With a love for the first grade, Kaminski said there are a lot of first time achievements throughout for her students throughout their first grade year.

“First grade is full of many ‘firsts,’ where students become fluent in reading and writing and it is amazing to see their growth from the beginning to the end of the year. I enjoy doing many hands-on activities with my students incorporating STEAM. I relish seeing their lightbulb moment when everything comes together when students have to problem solve and work together. Everyday in my classroom is a celebration, we all are rooting for each other in every step of the way.”

Along with the other core subjects, reading is really one of the most important aspect to a child’s education and it is really the foundation she builds her teaching on. She understands that without being able to read, a student will lack the abilities to make connections with a lot of other subject areas.

“If I could change anything about education it would be an endless supply of books for students,” she said. “Books are key to student development in basic language skills and profoundly expand their vocabularies much more than any other media. I quickly fell in love with the author Mo Willems in my first year of teaching and have used all his books to gain student interest in reading. At first I am reading to them and before you know it they are reading to me with expression and fluency.”

As she finishes up the 2020-2021 school year, Kaminski said although COVID-19 has brought about many changes to her and her students’ lives, she is still proud of how well her students and the staff she works with have adapted and continued to grow.

“It has been a learning process for myself, but especially for my students,” she said. “We have adapted quickly overnight multiple times and it is amazing to see how all the teachers have worked together to make sure all student’s needs are being met. I have taken extra measures this year to get students moving more by incorporating brain breaks and desk drumming since we are spending more time in the classroom to break up the day.”

One activity that COVID-19 hasn’t taken away from her students has been their ability to monitor chicken eggs throughout the incubation and hatching/development process.

“For our last science unit of the year, we focus on plant and animal traits,” she said. “This year, I have taken on the legacy of Cindy Jarvie’s chick life cycle project. Students enjoyed every step of the process as we watched and learned. We even set up a live camera, so all the students in the school could see our chicks hatching.”

After 13 years in the classroom, Kaminski still looks forward to each new year, even if they come with extra challenges like the last two years have done. She loves teaching and can’t imagine doing anything else.

“As long as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I wasn’t the strongest reader when I was younger and I wanted to help kids become better readers. I became very active at a young age in the Future Educators of America Club knowing that I wanted to make a difference in education. If I could give advice about going into education, I would say do it. You won’t regret it. Everyday is an opportunity to touch a student’s life.”

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