Special ‘K’ at Zephyr Cove school
Konnie Susich’s kindergarten classroom feels like home.
It’s not the rectangular floor rug with bright-colored squares or the tiny tables and chairs where years of children have sat and squirmed. Sure, those things help, but it is Susich’s patience and kindness that make her students feel comfortable, safe.
“Mrs. Susich is a good teacher because she’s nice,” 6-year-old Avery Laub said Friday. “She helped me with math today. She makes me feel happy and feel like home.”
Susich was named Zephyr Cove Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year, as well as the 2001 Douglas County Teacher of the Year.
“I was happy just to have it for Zephyr Cove,” Susich said, blushing modestly. “Getting it for Douglas County was a total surprise. I am very proud. The only things better were when I had my kids. It was just really exciting. It is such an honor to be picked. You know the saying ‘it takes a whole village to educate a child?’ Well, it takes a whole community to make a good teacher. So it’s not just my award. It’s everyone’s award.”
Susich, who has been with Douglas County School District for 18 years, said her own educational journey is never-ending. She is one year away from receiving a master’s degree in computer technology from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. She is taking courses through a correspondence program in Reno.
“I’m always going to school for something,” Susich said. “Not only does it keep you young, it keeps you aware of what you’re doing, keeps you in the mainstream.”
Sherissa Jorgenson, 6, said she knows that Susich is interested in learning, as well as teaching.
“She’s really nice and she’s a good teacher because she knows about little kids learning and she teaches us”, she said. “And she’s learning things too. All the kids like her.”
The class responded immediately to their teacher’s request Friday to sing “the continent song.” Later, Susich taught a math lesson using three large dice. Each student took a turn rolling the dice, then added up the sum of the numbers. One girl rolled a seven. While she was counting her numbers, a boy sitting a few squares down from her said, “It’s how many continents there are.” Susich smiled proudly.
“I like Mrs. Susich being my teacher because she teaches the classes and she makes us feel good,” said Sierra Forvilly, 5. “She helps us learn math and the continents. I’m glad for her because she likes me, but there are no likes in sharing.”
No likes in sharing? Susich explained that while sharing in front of the class, students often say, “I like this because it’s fun,” or “I like to play with it.”
“I wanted them to say, ‘I enjoy it,’ to use enjoy instead of like. You want to expand their vocabulary, so there are no likes in sharing,” she said.
Six-year-old Lakin Smith said she and Mrs. Susich have the same pair of shoes.
“I like her because she helps us do math with the dice,” Smith said. “I have the same shoes as her and I can say, ‘Just wear them.’ and she wears them. We wear them at the same time. I think she’s nice and I like her and I love her.”
Hannah Norman, 6, said Susich deserves to be Teacher of the Year.
“She’s a good teacher because she lets us get drinks after recess,” Norman said. “I just like her because she’s nice. She’s the best teacher I’ve ever had.”
In between kissing a boo-boo and pulling out art supplies, Susich looked over and grinned.
“I love teaching,” she said.
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