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Meet the kindergarten team

image of student carrying a plate of food

picture of student and teacher at Thanksgiving feast buffet

Kindergarten students enjoy trying different foods at the annual Thanksgiving feast.

Keeping with tradition: Thanksgiving feast offers kindergarten students chance to sample traditional holiday fare

 

Kindergarten teachers and students enjoyed the annual Thanksgiving feast on Nov. 20, a tradition that has grown from individual classroom celebrations to a grade-level gathering.

 History of kindergarten celebration

Teacher Rebecca Cioffi remembers similar celebrations from her days in elementary school. She introduced the Thanksgiving celebration with her students early in her teaching career.

“We read Feast for 10, a good book to read around Thanksgiving, and when we started talking about the foods that are traditionally served  turkey, cranberry sauce, pie I realized that some of my students had never eaten those types of food,” she said, so I started bringing in pumpkin pie, apple pie and cornbread for them to try.”

Teacher Lynn Pontore agreed. “Many of my students had never tried the cranberry sauce with the berries in it before.

Tina Shufelt recalled one of her very first classroom Thanksgiving celebrations as a kindergarten teacher.

“Caleb Gleason’s mom cooked a turkey dinner for the entire class,” she said. That goes back a few years ‒ Mr. Gleason is now a fifth-grade teacher at Watervliet Elementary School.

The individual classroom celebrations have since evolved into a family style gathering where children have an opportunity to sample a variety of holiday foods including turkey, cheese, rolls, vegetables and dip, pumpkin and apple pie, popcorn, cornbread and more. Parent volunteers help serve the food buffet style.

In addition to the feast, kindergarten students participate in learning activities with Thanksgiving themes that include coloring, reading and writing projects. Last year, for example, students read stories and made bookmarks.

This year, kindergarten students made turkey hats. Kara Taylor's students collaborated on a small writing project with sixth-grade partners. Sixth graders named a random household item and asked the young learners why they are thankful for it.

It was essentially a fill-in-the-blank exercise that prompted kindergartners to think about why certain items are necessary and why we would be thankful for common, everyday objects, like soap," said Miss Taylor.

Learn more about the Kindergarten team

Want to know what career kindergarten educators dreamed of pursuing when they were in elementary school? To learn the answer to that and a few other questions, click on the staff member’s name to reveal a short Q&A.


picture of kindergarten teachers

The kindergarten team, from left: Lynn Pontore, Diane Jacob, Tina Shufelt, Kara Taylor, Rebecca Cioffi and Tina LaVallee (not pictured).

Lynn Pontore

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Peanut, but I also love the new coffee nut flavor.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching kindergarten?  Seeing the a-ha moments when students start building connections.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, or The Tree That Came to Stay by Anna Quindlen.

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Coffee.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Purple.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? A marine biologist or a teacher.

 

Diane Jacob

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Peanut.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching kindergarten? Seeing how students reading ability grows. They come a long way in a year.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? Any books by childrens author Jan Brett.

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Coffee.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Red.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? A teacher.

 

Tina Shufelt

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Peanut.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching kindergarten? You never sit still in kindergarten; we are always busy. The days fly by.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen.

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Coffee.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Blue.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? A teacher or a veterinarian.

 

Kara Taylor

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Peanut.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching kindergarten?  It would definitely be seeing student growth.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Coffee.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Pink.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? A ballerina.

 

Rebecca Cioffi

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Peanut.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching kindergarten?  The growth of students in such a short period of time.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? Junie B. Jones book series.

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Coffee, all day every day.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Partial to blue, but I love all colors.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? A teacher or a veterinarian.

 

Tina LaVallee, special educator working with kindergarten and grade 2

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Peanut.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching kindergarten?  The excitement in learning new things.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? Any of the Golden Books stories.

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Coffee.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Blue.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? A teacher.