For most parents, Open House Night at their child’s kindergarten classroom in a brand-new school would be an important event. But Lauren Joseph, Kindergarten teacher at IDEA Innovation, went the extra mile to make sure it would be a truly special night. She and co-teacher Sydney Bernard served up a home-cooked meal of rotel dip, meatballs, and cookies for the parents of their new students. The evening included a sample teach, so parents could see what happens in class every day, and a scavenger hunt as well, making the evening a memorable, educational, and bonding experience for everyone. “It was more like a party,” says Joseph. “It was so much fun!”
Connecting with families and getting to know parents in this way is part of Joseph’s mission to create a home-away-from-home learning environment for her students. Within her classroom, Joseph is committed to doing what it takes to set high expectations and make learning a priority for her students. “I want to create that hunger for learning here. For those eight hours that they are here, I want them to feel loved; I want them to feel excited about school; I want them to feel wanted; I want them to feel confident.”
Whether it is learning to write their names for the first time, or learning to read their first words, Joseph teaches her students to celebrate each accomplishment, big or small, and to persist and work hard. “I want them to understand that they can do whatever they put their minds to,” she states emphatically.
Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Joseph is committed to the children of her community. So committed in fact that she moved away from her hometown and her job with the State of Louisiana to train for a year as a teacher at IDEA Weslaco Pike in Texas before coming back to Baton Rouge to be a part of the #FoundingFamily at IDEA Innovation.
When she first heard about IDEA, she says that it sounded like it was too good to be true. “But when I was down there in the Rio Grande Valley, I was able to see first-hand how it all comes to life and it just fueled a fire in me. Seeing kids who are primarily speaking Spanish able to read in English by the end of kindergarten was just mind-boggling to me,” she says.
Given this experience in Texas, she is excited to be part of the #FoundingFamily at IDEA Innovation, bringing the IDEA culture back to her hometown: “We are so excited because IDEA is such a successful school network. We want that same opportunity for our kids.”
Although Joseph did not initially have a preference for the level at which she would teach, she is delighted to be a kindergarten teacher at IDEA Innovation. “I just love to see kids succeed and to enjoy what they are doing, to enjoy learning, to not feel like it is only rigor. I like them to understand that they’re learning something that they can use in the future.” Working at the kindergarten level, Joseph is building an early foundation for a lifetime of learning and achievement for each of her students.