She was part of the school’s first kindergarten class when it opened in 1999, moved to Arizona when she was in fifth grade and returned Greensboro to finish eighth grade. When she reached high school, she said it was clear she had a strong foundation in subjects such as grammar and math compared to her peers.
“I was more prepared for the academic part of high school,” she said. “For example, I can remember vividly there was a prepositions quiz in ninth grade where we had to memorize all 49 prepositions and write them all, and that was something I had done at Greensboro.”
Kindergarten teacher Lauren Matherly has been at Summerfield Charter Academy for six years.
When she had the opportunity to return to National Heritage Academies as a teacher, Matherly encountered a familiar face. At a job fair she ran into Summerfield Charter Academy Principal Rudy Swofford, who was the principal when she attended Greensboro.
“The next thing I knew I was scheduling an interview and being hired,” said Matherly, who has been a kindergarten teacher at Summerfield for six years.
Lauren Matherly is a former Greensboro Academy student and now teaches at Summerfield Charter Academy.
Her path back to NHA and to Summerfield wasn’t without a few twists and turns. Matherly did one year in an architecture program at UNC Charlotte but found that the solitary nature of the field didn’t suit her. She then switched her major to social work in an effort to work with kids and enjoyed the relationships she built. But because her caseload was about 100 kids, she wanted to develop more influential bonds and sought to teach.
Matherly always tries to incorporate a bright, colorful visual aid and a rhyme, song, or motion if possible to appeal to the young students’ auditory needs. Those cues initiate motion and establishes a subconscious association with the lesson that sticks.
“I always use a hand motion she said. “It’s amazing that by the end of the week, most of them can give you verbatim what the definition is. They don’t remember it necessarily because of the words, they remember it because of the motions.”
Each year, students in Lauren Matherly’s class are assigned to show what they would be like/look like if they were the teacher, and some recreated their teacher.
The sights and sounds of a kindergarten classroom are the backdrop for a time in scholars’ lives that is equally as much about their social and emotional growth as it is about their academic education, Matherly said. Those lessons include articulating their communication and behavior.
“I really focus on helping kids develop interpersonal relationships with each other and with their teachers,” she said. “I pride myself on trying to spend as much time as possible teaching these kids to use their language or giving them the ability to use language to communicate their frustration.
“It’s amazing to watch them blossom from the beginning of the year to want to communicate with others and help others as they develop.”
Lauren Matherly instructs one of her kindergarten scholars.
Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Matherly!
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National Heritage Academies (NHA) is a network of 100 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
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