THIS IS WHAT LOVE IS ALL ABOUT
Last week I receieved a letter from a very special lady named Stephanie Herndon, whose love for her husband and for baseball has contributed to the love she has for her job and her students. Enjoy…
I am very excited about the opportunity for my class to be mentioned on the Better Off Red blog.
My name is Stephanie Herndon and I am a third-grade teacher at Clear Creek Elementary in Shelbyville, Ky. I have been teaching for 14 years and this was the first year that I looped with my students. What looping means is I taught second grade last year and I moved up with my class to the third grade. Seventeen of my 22 students were with me last year. This class has been a very special class and I have thoroughly enjoyed being their teacher.
Last year as second-graders we were the “Happy Herndon” with bright yellow smiley face t-shirts, which was great. As I prepared for the new year, knowing that I would have the same students again I tried to think of a way to motivate them in a fun and exciting way. The smiley face thing was ok (at least for the girls it was) but I wanted to motivate my whole class.
My husband, John Herndon, sports editor of The Anderson News, and I went on our annual trip to Cincinnati to spend the night and go to a Reds game for our anniversary. My husband is a huge Reds fan. As we visited the sites of Cincinnati including the replica of old Crosley Field and the Reds Hall of Fame, where I was reminded of baseball’s prominent place in American History, I was picking my husband’s brain for ideas for a class name and theme.
I came up with several names before “Home Run Herndons.” Right away, my husband said, “I think you should go with “Home Run Herndons.” I decided that I would make the connection with school/education and baseball.
I did this in many ways for example: Each day our schedule is a “game plan”, we have learning targets that we use in our unit plans and I called those our “Strike Zone”; we had a wall of fame where I included many different baseball players and famous quotes then eventually I started to put student work on this board; we have our helper’s chart entitled “Look Who’s Pitching in”….it is the baseball diamond with students’ names on baseballs and they rotate around the field in different position for the week with different classroom jobs.
I had my wall of fame with my accomplishments in education; we have a bulletin board that is “Home Run Herndons Press Box” with lots of classroom information (schedules, lunch menu, etc.); the door to our classroom says “Home Run Herndons Dugout with our team roster (class name tags which they come in and put on their locker door, this is how I do attendance); our reading corner is “Who’s on Deck – Reading is a hit with us!!!”; our safe place is our “Bull Pen”; our behavior/discipline polices for our school procedures is called “3 Strikes You’re Out”; I have pods of tables that are labeled with the farm teams for the Reds, and our community circle carpet is a baseball diamond.
I chose all this because I really wanted to motivate my students to do well and I thought baseball was a fun game. We even had a small section on a wall dedicated to a local boy who had made it big, Lee Tinsley, who played major league baseball and was a coach for the Mariners and Diamondbacks.
We talked a lot at the beginning of the year how baseball takes endurance, team work, practice and focus. So does school.
We had class t-shirts made up with Home Run Herndons on the front and our class motto on the back “We are going to knock it out of the park………….socially, emotionally, academically, and physically.” Those four words were the bases. These are words that our district uses in its motto.
The student and parent buy-in was tremendous. The students have been motivated all year with this theme. We have gotten so many compliments throughout the building and the district. I just really wanted my students to be successful in everything they did whether it was big or little. Baseball was just the common ground we started on and things sky-rocketed from there.
With the help of my husband and his love of baseball, I have been able to accomplish my goal for my students: To give them every opportunity possible to learn and grow. I know I am not the best teacher in the world but I love each of my students and want what is best for them. I will miss this class next year and I am just so grateful that you are giving us this opportunity to share our story with Reds fans
PS: My class is planning a class trip to watch a Red game on Saturday, April 28th. I know we are not a big deal to the Reds but my students are a HUGE deal to me and they are just so excited that we are going to see the Reds play together.