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Faculty Friday: Mrs. Carlene Burgess

Carlene Burgess
Kindergarten Teacher


Education: B.S. in Photojournalism and Art, Syracuse University; Scandinavian Studies Degree, University of Copenhagen; Two-Year Degree, American Academy of Dramatic Arts, NYC; Masters of Education, Birth-Grade 6, Southern Connecticut State University.


How long have you been teaching at GCS?

I have been part of the GCS family for 18 years. I worked as a Kindergarten teacher for 14 years, then moved to our “Little Angels” (PreK3) program for three years, and came back to Kindergarten this year. I’ve learned so much from the GCS parents and families over the years, and am in awe of their generosity and commitment to Catholic Education. Being part of this community is a blessing.


How do you help Kindergarten students relate to each other?

In my classroom, we are a team - we start to learn about each other in the beginning of the year, finding ways that we are similar and celebrating things that make us unique. We share “mystery bags” that hold 5 things that represent something about ourselves, such as a sports item, artwork, or picture of a family pet. Students talk to the class about their items, and their peers are able to ask questions. They love learning about each other.


How would you describe your classroom environment?

We have “center-based” learning that allows children to work on different activities and challenges, and we help them learn to cooperate. The Kindergartners also take part in many hands-on and multi-sensory activities like music, computers, puzzles, and other manipulatives to help them develop problem-solving and motor skills.


Which academic skills are most important as you prepare students for 1st Grade?

Literacy and Math are essential building blocks in Kindergarten, and we focus on them throughout the curriculum. The students work on reading, phonics and sounds, blended words, and writing. Our Writing Workshop gives students a way to express themselves and document their experiences, and to learn about each other by sharing their work with their writing partners. Our Math studies include numbers 1-20, addition and subtraction, along with how math is related to the world around us. At this age, children like to “see math” in grocery stores, favorite recipes, and even during their ride to school.


Tell us about your classroom’s Prayer Journal.

We have a Prayer Journal in our classroom, and the students are welcome to pray for anyone or anything. It’s not a guided activity, so students choose to participate and think on their own about their prayer intentions. Many students draw pictures and write names of family members. When we were collecting items for St. Elizabeth Seton School in Naples after Hurricane Irma, the children prayed for students there, and when a classmate misses school because he or she is sick, they include those children in the book. Their empathy, even at this age, is inspiring to me.


When you’re not at GCS, where can we find you?

Florida! In the summer, I love to visit my family in Florida, and enjoy boating and swimming. During the winter months, I like arts & crafts and keep busy with drawing, painting and writing. I’ve written two books - one is for children and the other is a real-life/inspirational work - and I’m working on illustrations and photography for those.

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