By Will McClure
As the new school year drew closer, Stamford ISD was in need of new teachers to fill many different roles and inspire students no matter what grade level. One of these new teachers who has already made an impact with her students is none other than new kindergarten teacher Holly Chapman, a former youth pastor turned classroom teacher originally from Levelland, Texas. While attending Bible College where she received a degree in Journalism, Chapman met her husband whom she married in 2008 before they both served as youth pastors for a little over six years. After the birth of their daughter, Olivia, Chapman decided it was time for a change, choosing to use her degree to move to the classroom and eventually began teaching at the elementary school level. Chapman said that although it was a big change from being a youth pastor to becoming a teacher, the common denominator was that of the kids.
After entering teaching, Chapman’s first job was teaching second grade math and science in Bridgeport, Texas, before moved back to her hometown of Levelland to teach fourth grade English and Social Studies. After one year at Levelland, Chapman eventually applied for an open position at Oliver Elementary in Stamford where she began her first year as a kindergarten teacher at the start of the school year. When asked about her decision to come to Stamford, Chapman said it was a decision that she was happy to make.
"I'm happy to be here because it is a good school and I have family here," Chapman said. "And I just really like the people here and I am also so happy to have Olivia in the same building as me. She is just down the hall and that's really nice to have her here."
When asked what the biggest change has been for her moving from fourth grade to kindergarten, Chapman said that she gets a lot more laughs than ever before as the kids engage in the lessons with many different activities throughout the day. She said that at that young age it is really easy to get the kids to enjoy and learn throughout the day. For herself, Chapman said that one of the biggest challenges has been to just allow herself to let loose and have fun with her lessons as the kindergarten students do not have to worry about STARR testing until they got older, something that Chapman had to prepare her students for in years prior. Chapman also said that one of the biggest things she likes about teaching kindergarten is that she is able to see the same students all day long, allowing her to get to know her smaller group and allow relationships to build quickly instead of only a shorter time each day with different sets of students.
Looking back on the first six weeks, Chapman said that it has been an eye-opening experience for her as she has learned to adapt to and embrace the kindergarten setting. She states that she starts off each day with a math video before splitting the class into small groups to work on math assignments. It is also at this time that the class is visited by students from the high school, representing the PALS program, to help the students with the different stations. After returning from a rotation session, the students engage in a reading/phonics lesson. After lunch and recess, the class goes to their reading stations which also allows her to talk to individual students to help them with their reading before a science/social studies lesson or an art activity ends the day. Chapman said that she has received a lot of collaboration and input from her fellow kindergarten teachers Delinda Ender and Lindsay Hernandez, stating that they meet at least once a week to correlate their lessons and make sure that the students are learning the same ideas, but each teacher is able to put their own spin on the lessons.
When asked about the different methods that she uses to teach, Chapman said she likes to use technology a lot in her lessons, using different apps to help enhance the learning process. She said that Oliver is a great school for this technique because of the one-to-one technology that is available to the students. Chapman also said that she likes to incorporate singing into her lessons as the students not only like to sing and dance with her, but it helps them remember what is being taught to them. While she is still continuing to "tweak" her lessons throughout the year, Chapman said that at the end of the day, she wants to build those important relationships with her kids, allowing them to grow not only academically, but personally as well.
When speaking of the move to Stamford, Chapman said that the community, faculty and parents have been very welcoming to her and her family, stating that she thought she had lived in a small town before, but has grown to see Stamford as a place where everybody knows everybody, where everyone cares about each other. Chapman hopes to add to that caring atmosphere in the classroom throughout not only this year but in future years, stating that every kid that walks in and out of the classroom can accomplish anything that they want to accomplish, they just need someone to help guide them.