Wendy Barnes learned as a teenager that you should never take anything for granted. When she was 18 years old, she taught sick kids at a hospital in Chernobyl. She said the experience was an eye opener.

 

Years later, as a kindergarten teacher at Tyson Elementary, that lesson still holds true.

 

“You have no idea what last year was like for them. You know, we take for granted our food our daily living,” explained Barnes.

 

Tyson Elementary is a Title 1 school, and includes students, some refugees, from all over the world. It is one of the many reasons Barnes loves teaching there.

 

“I love my kiddos. I tear up a lot of times when they do such sweet things. They’re just amazing little people,” said Barnes.

 

To keep her kindergarten students engaged, Barnes keeps class moving with plenty of fun lessons. But she also finds value is keeping silent, still and mindful.

 

“We take time. We sit down. We learn to breathe. Strong yoga seats. How to calm your body. How to be present,” explained Barnes.

 

Currently, her students can sit completely still in their strong yoga seats for seven minutes. The goal is ten minutes by the end of the school year.

 

Seeing their progress, whether doing yoga or learning to read, is Barnes favorite part.

 

“Whenever you see a child learn something new, it’s amazing,” she said. “When you become a part of who they’re going to be, you can’t change that, so I love it.”

 

She also loves learning and living life to the fullest. She said it’s the secret to her success.

 

“Don’t stop learning. Make it your goal every day to learn something new. Read something. Be a part of something,” explained Barnes. “And stay young. Keep doing things. These kids know I still skateboard, I ride four wheelers, I still try to love life every day.”

 

This is Barnes third year teaching at Tyson Elementary. Prior to that, she taught for seven years in Florida and home schooled her children for six years.

 

Know a teacher making a difference in students’ lives? Nominate them for Teacher of the Week.

 

 

 

 

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