With more than a decade and a hallway setting them apart, two of Magnolia Elementary’s newest teachers do share one thing in common – what inspired them to teach.
A number of staff changes, as well as new faces will greet the 2015-16 school year for Oakdale Joint Unified School District. While Nicole Kirschner and Annamarie McDaniel are not foreign to the Magnolia Elementary campus, this will be their first year as regular staff members.
Kirschner will start the 2015-16 school year as a second grade teacher, while McDaniel will make herself at home in a fourth grade classroom. Both women have served as OJUSD substitutes prior to being hired and have only subbed with OJUSD.
“I worked at all of the sites,” McDaniel stated, “but mostly Fair Oaks.”
The first year teacher earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies from California State University, Stanislaus. Kirschner has substituted with OJUSD since the latter half of the 2012-13 school year. She earned her BA in Liberal Studies from Chico State. She has six years of teaching experience with Galt Joint Union Elementary School District.
“This is the first time I’ve had to start from scratch and set up my classroom on my own,” Kirschner confided late last week. The second grade teacher has four years of experience as a Kindergarten teacher and two years teaching first grade. In both instances, she shared a classroom.
McDaniel has been equally busy getting her classroom ready for her 27 students.
“I’ve been here a couple of times a week all summer,” she said, “and I still feel unprepared.
“As a teacher, everybody thinks you have the summers off and you really don’t,” McDaniel said of classroom and curriculum prep.
Regardless of the work and effort it takes to be prepared for the first day of school Thursday, Aug. 6, both women are excited for the opportunity.
“I’m excited about the fact that most of them are already reading,” Kirschner said of her second graders, “and they’re a little more mature, so you’re building on what they know. But yet, they’re still young and fun.”
“I’m excited for the curriculum I get to teach,” McDaniel shared. “When I first started teaching Common Core, I was overwhelmed by it, but now that I’ve seen it work and the way students come through it, it’s different. It’s amazing what they have gained from it.”
Both women shared that being a teacher was not a childhood dream from an early age, but rather one they came across as they each worked as High School Helpers during their high school years.
“I just loved the teacher I was working for,” Kirschner recalled. “From that point on I loved working with the kids and knew that I wanted to be a teacher.”
“Originally I wanted to be a pediatrician. I knew I always wanted to do something with kids,” McDaniel stated. “Then I became a High School Helper and the path changed to teaching. Seeing the light bulb go on, is one of my favorite things about teaching.”
As teachers at the primary level, the educators recognize the uniqueness of this opportunity, not only in the way of guiding their students from a scholastic standpoint.
“My primary focus is to create a safe environment for them to be in,” Kirschner said of her second graders. “To not just teach them, but create an environment that also nurtures their emotional and social being. I want their parents to know I have their students’ best interest at heart and I’m going to do everything I can do to nurture their students and make their students successful.”
“I want to be an inspiration and a safe place for them,” McDaniel stated of the hope for her classroom, “because some don’t have that at home. So giving them that when they come to school and letting them know someone believes in them. No matter what the struggle, if you can believe in yourself you can overcome anything.”
Additional introductions to new OJUSD educators will appear in future issues of the Oakdale Leader.