By Amy Mitchell
Ms. Kathryn Knight has been teaching Pre-Kindergarten for 10 years. “Getting a letter from a parent saying ‘thank you for your patience and courage to invest in my daughter,’” is what keeps her excited to continue her work each day.
Visiting her classroom, you know that this parent is right. Knight is a dedicated educator that invests not only in each student in her class, but also her continued professional development as an educator.
In the 2014-15 school year, Knight began a three-year professional development engagement with the North Carolina Wolf Trap program through ASC.
The program places performing arts residencies in pre-kindergarten classrooms and child development centers across Mecklenburg County. Wolf Trap teaching artists visit participating classrooms twice a week for seven weeks, providing professional development for teachers and arts engagement for students. All lessons are aligned with classroom curriculum, designed to ensure that all children in Mecklenburg County enter kindergarten ready to learn.
Through the Wolf Trap program, Knight is getting individualized instruction on how to incorporate performing arts learning techniques into her existing teaching method. “I have been taught new, upbeat and exciting techniques enabling children to learn math and literacy without realizing they are learning,” said Knight. “[Students] think they are just making music, which they are doing too!”
Knight meets regularly with her Wolf Trap teaching artist to discuss learning objectives, classroom goals, individual needs of students, and the use of the performing arts as an instructional tool. This individualized professional development allows Ms. Knight to build her skillset as an educator and continue using these new techniques when the residency is complete.
“I am not an artist and it took flexibility on my part to adjust,” she said on starting the Wolf Trap program, “but once I went outside my comfort zone a little and saw how engaged and focused the children were I was sold. It’s a great program, and the arts are very important to education.”
Knight is part of educating our next generation and is dedicated to keeping her students engaged through active learning. The North Carolina Wolf Trap program through ASC is equipping Knight, and other educators in Mecklenburg County, with the skills to help pre-K students start kindergarten as creative and critical thinkers, ready to learn.
Participating in the Wolf Trap program “helps me keep learning fun and engaging,” Knight said. “My favorite lesson was when the children used rhythms to count sides and identify attributes of shapes. Most children can memorize shape names, but find it more challenging to identify the attributes of shapes. This lesson made identifying attributes musical and fun. They are finding shapes everywhere now and so excited to show me!”