Denise and Michael Harder nominated Christine Jeppson for Class Acts. The Harders said Jeppson is a wonderful teacher who truly cares about children. Jeppson takes time to listen to kids, has a great sense of humor and makes learning fun for her class, the Harders added.
• Name: Christine Jeppson
• Age: 51
• City of residence: Modesto
• Occupation: Kindergarten teacher, Beard Elementary, Modesto City Schools
• Family: Children -- Dana, newly graduated from California State University, Chico, as a speech pathologist; Steven, attending Modesto Junior College; and Gina, Beyer High
• Education background: Attended MJC and then graduated from CSU, Chico, with a bachelor's degree in health education and a multiple subjects teaching credential from CSU, Stanislaus
• Teaching experience: I am just finishing my 27th year of teaching, almost all at the kindergarten level. I taught six years at Walter White in Ceres, one year at Garrison Elementary and the past 20 years at Beard Elementary.
Why did you get into teaching? I come from a family of teachers, and I have always enjoyed being around a classroom or gym. At first, I had aspirations to become a gymnastics coach, When I broke my back at a college gymnastics meet and injured my spinal cord, I rethought my future. I decided to put my energy and education into elementary school-aged children and I am very happy I did.
What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? I love being around young, creative minds. These children keep me hopping. They are inquisitive and energetic, which helps to re-energize me in my teaching. The interaction I have with my wonderful adult volunteers in my classroom and my coworkers also makes my occupation fun.
What is the most challenging part of your job? Untied shoes! Actually one of the biggest challenges is to figure out each child's learning style and design the curriculum accordingly.
What is the most important lesson you've learned? That every child has some talent to offer society. We need to nurture the strengths of the scholar, as well as the talents of the future skilled vocational workers.
What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? Although I am not that musically talented, I can play a mean CD. Most of my students enjoy learning many skills through rhythm and movement as a supplement to our adopted programs.
What's next in your classroom? To encourage my students and their families to continue to read and explore over the summer.
What advice do you have for students? Try to find your niche and keep the love of learning. Luckily we do not all have the same strengths and interests. We can learn from each other.
What advice do you have for parents? Be involved in your child's education. At the earliest stages of life, begin reading with each other. Ask open-ended questions. Spend quality time together and listen attentively. Sincerely praise the small accomplishments.
What one area should schools put more emphasis on? Of course accountability is a necessary part of teaching our children, however, some important human traits that I believe need to be instilled, cannot be fully measured with a test score. Some of the student's greatest learning experiences in kindergarten have been at our "choice time." The children practice choosing an activity where ground rules have been established, but conflicts may arise. We need to allow situations for students to practice their own conflict-resolution strategies so that as they are growing, they can function in society in a healthier way.
What would surprise people about your job? Convincing kindergartners that we don't throw our sleeping bags on the classroom floor at night and that we actually do grocery shop.
What are your future plans? Besides motorcycling to Canada this summer with George Erbele and interacting with my own grown children, I plan to keep teaching kindergarten. They keep me young!