Theres much to be said about teaching a room full of first-graders, Emilea Peine noted.
I like seeing them get it, she said. I like it when you know theyve learned something and their eyes light up, thinking, Oh, I can do that.
And theres a lot of rewards from constant compliments, she quickly added with a laugh.
Peine, who teaches first grade at Jefferson Elementary School, is among the crop of newcomers at USD 257 this year.
The Garnett native is no stranger to Iola. She attended Allen Community College for two years before earning her teaching degree at Emporia State University.
She taught fifth-grade English and language arts at Garnett Elementary School for a year before moving to Jefferson this fall.
Ive always wanted to teach little kids, she said. Im excited to get this opportunity.
There were things I liked about teaching just reading, she continued. It was something I was comfortable with, but it also meant teaching the same thing three times a day. I enjoy change. Once I finish a lesson, were ready to move on to something different. For me, its a little more lively.
Peine grew up with an affinity for working with children.
She enjoyed babysitting, taking care of her younger siblings and doing other youth projects.
My grandma was a teacher, and I think a little bit of her got into me, Peine said with a laugh. I thought, maybe I could do this.
Peine reflected on her own first-grade teacher, and the way her classroom was set up years ago.
She taught us sign language and had a cool library corner. I loved sitting in there and reading, she said. I always inew that if I had my own classroom, I wanted one.
(Editors note: She has one. Her mother came down over the summer to help Peine arrange the classroom to her liking.)
Teaching at Jefferson offers other benefits, Peine noted. She appreciates the support from her fellow teachers and administrators.
Im pretty fortunate, she said. They give you standards, and they allow you the flexibility to teach how you want to teach. If you want to teach from a book, teach from a book. If you want to use something else, use something else. And I love my team. Theyre so nice and kind. Theyll help with anything. All I need to do is go to them and ask. Theyve been awesome.
PEINE continues to commute from Garnett daily, although shes on the lookout for a place to rent in Iola.
Im really wanting to find a place soon, but I know others are traveling farther than me, so Im fortunate, she said.
Outside of school, Peine enjoys the outdoors: camping, riding bikes, etc.
Shes eager to check out the Lehigh Portland Trails complex south of Iol, but figures shell have have to wait until after she moves. Ive heard there are some good trails down here.