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Faculty Friday: Mrs. Dena Haight

Dena Haight

 

First Grade Teacher

 

Education: B.A., Psychology and Education, Endicott College; State Certified, Elementary Education, K-6.

 

When did you join GCS?

This is my 18th year at Greenwich Catholic School, and I’ve always taught First Grade. As a child, I was a student at GCS in Grades 2-6, and was hired years later by my 3rd Grade Principal. This is also my 8th year as a GCS Mom!

 

What are some rites of passage in First Grade?

First Graders have their own lockers for the first time, so they love to decorate them and start learning how to organize their school supplies and books. They also start eating lunch in the cafeteria, which is a new adventure for them. At this age, they thrive on becoming more independent, and I enjoy helping them become more responsible as the year progresses.

 

What are some ways you bring “real life” into the classroom?

We use the ‘Daily 5’ for Math,Language Arts, Religion, Social Studies, and Science, which promotes reading, writing, and collaboration across subject areas. The children love our weather studies in Science. News12 visits our classroom to talk about the weather, and the students prepare forecasts that are used on the news broadcast. We also recently finished a SOLE lesson (Self-Organized Learning Environment) in which students learn to work together to organize a project, accomplish different tasks, and present to the class. This type of activity fosters critical teamwork and cooperation skills.

 

Do First Graders participate in STEM projects?

STEM is incorporated into many different parts of our curriculum. At Christmastime, we spent a few weeks reading different gingerbread stories. We used the books to create Venn Diagrams to compare and contrast the setting, characters, problems and solutions. At the end of the unit, students created “Gingerbread Traps” to try to catch a gingerbread person in the classroom.

 

What surprises you about your students?

First grade is a big step from Kindergarten. We try to model behavior for the students, and challenge them to be role models for each other. Over the year, it’s rewarding to watch them grow and learn and become such independent thinkers. They spend the year learning how to read and write and become so engaged in many different genres of books.

 

What keeps you busy outside the classroom?

I spend a lot of time being a “Baseball Mom” - my sons both love to play baseball, and my older son has traveled throughout Connecticut with his team. This season he’ll participate in games and tournaments throughout the Tri-State area, which we’re looking forward to. I also love to cook for my family each night and spend time at the beach, especially on Cape Cod. My sister is getting married this summer, so helping her plan her destination wedding has been a fun way to spend time recently!

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