Interview with Teacher Jennie Fitzkee!

INTERVIEW WITH TEACHER JENNIE FITZKEE!

Jennie Fitzkee

Please help me welcome teacher Jennie Fitzkee to Jemsbooks.blog Interview Segment. Jennie is the first teacher that I have had the pleasure to interview. Jennie is a lovely lady and an exceptional teacher of preschool. I happened upon her fabulous blog and have enjoyed reading about her classroom, students and what she has accomplished with these young children. She is utterly amazing.

Thanks so much, Janice.

My pleasure, Jennie. The stage is all yours.

1. What does a teacher need to do to be successful?
Pay attention to children.  The lesson being taught by you will only be meaningful if children are engaged and interested.  Does that mean the child is more important than the lesson?  Yes, it does.  Let me give you a few examples: A high school history teacher in upstate New York was beginning to teach about the Civil War.  He decided to grow his beard, and when it was at different lengths, he would ask, “Who am I?  Grant?  Lee?  Sherman?”  The students were enthralled and therefore eager to do the research.  And the teacher paid attention to the students, took their interests, and expanded on his teaching.  Win-win!

For young children, the lessons often do not go as planned.  Children can quickly become disinterested or disruptive.  What to do?  Stop!  Throw that lesson out the window.  Then sing, pull out a puppet, make a silly face, dance… and then you move on. This is not easy, especially for new teachers.  And what if something happens when a teacher is in the middle of a story or a game?  What if there are tears or fighting, or if a spider is discovered?  What if a child is ‘lost’ or withdrawn?  Every one of those situations is an opportunity to connect with children.  And once you connect, the world of learning opens wide.  Wide!

There’s a term for this: Emergent curriculum.

jjspina: There were many times in a classroom that I wished the teacher would change things up a little like that. Lessons became boring and no one listened. You are a remarkable teacher, Jennie.

2What is your favorite subject to teach?
Reading and reading aloud!  I read picture books twice a day, and that doesn’t count spontaneous reading when a child asks, “Jennie, can you read me a book?”  Those are the best words I hear every day.  I also chapter read, right before rest time.  Yes, I chapter read to preschoolers, and they love it.  The best part is all the questions children ask.  Sometimes the questions and discussion takes longer than the chapter reading.  Every year I begin with reading Charlotte’s Web.  We learn together about making friends, worry about Wilbur, laugh at the geese… and all the important social and emotional things that happen in the book.  Children need a strong foundation in developing social and emotional skills.  Reading aloud does just that!

jjspina: I agree about reading aloud. I like to create stories aloud for my four-year-old grandson. He listens carefully and when I give him a problem in the story to solve he tackles it. Expect more of your children and they will unknowingly and willingly give it.

3. What is the most challenging thing you have found in teaching?
The paper work.  Oh, the paper work!  Unfortunately, that’s a sign of the times.  Interestingly, thirty years ago I might have said ‘the parents’.  That is often the hard part for a new teacher, communicating and developing a relationship with parents.  And then my Director said to staff, “When you write newsletters to families, include a short paragraph about why you do what you do.  Educate parents.”  And I did.  And that grew, as you know.  The paper work is still my challenge, like doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen.

jjspina: I was in a school system for 25 years in two different positions and that is all I heard from the teachers – I hate all this paper work! Ha!

4. Have you ever wanted to do something else besides teaching?
No, I haven’t.  But remember, back in the day (that’s waaay back) the only options for women were being a teacher, a secretary, or a nurse.  Really!  Unless you were a total brain (as in Einstein brilliant), and that was a rough and rocky road for those few.

jjspina: I remember those days before Women’s Lib. Women were limited in their choices. Now it’s quite a different story, thank goodness.

5. What are your hobbies?
My ‘vacation home’ is my backyard.  We have a small home and a big yard and a pool, in a country area in New England.  I love watching the sun and clouds on the rolling hills, as we sit at the pool – adorned with fish.  I think we have over forty fish.  It takes us two days to open and decorate the pool every year.  I feel like the luckiest person.  I love visiting museums and exploring antique shops.  I love driving back roads in Vermont.  I love artisan stores.  I grow flowers.  I’m a music lover, big time!

Jjspina: Wow, I would love to see that pool with the fish. I love fish of all kinds. We have two tanks in our home, one salt water and the other fresh. They are fascinating and calming to watch. Your hobbies spawn creativity – that is why you are so creative.

6. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I love history, architecture, and art.  Traveling to England, France, Ireland, and Italy has been the thrill of a lifetime.  I want to return so I can really see.

jjspina: Wonderful countries to visit – the Old World. I hope one day you travel to all these places.

7. What is the most memorable teaching experience you have had?
There have been two.  The first was early on in teaching.  I had not yet connected with a little boy, Andrew.  It was rest time, and all the children had fallen asleep.  All except Andrew.  I was across the room, rubbing the back of the last child who had fallen asleep.  Andrew and I looked at each other at the same time and smiled.  It was just us, nobody else.  That smile changed the world for me, and for Andrew.

The second most memorable teaching experience was having Jim Trelease, author of the million-copy bestseller The Read-Aloud Handbook, visit my classroom.  Wow!  I had his book since the 80’s when my children were little.  And then I heard him speak at a teacher conference.  I wrote him a letter to tell him that I do what he professes to be the most important thing for children- reading aloud.  I knew this was the best thing for children.  And so Jim Trelease spent a day at my school, following me and taking notes, interviewing staff and parents, and watching me read.  I am featured in the latest edition of his book.

Jjspina: How sweet that was to share a precious smile with Andrew. That must have been exciting for you to have Jim Trelease in your classroom and then to be featured in his latest book.

8. What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Being ‘one’ with a child.  That typically happens late in October.  Hugs and smiles are genuine.  So are tears.  We trust each other, listen to each other, and really care.  When we click, teaching takes off.  It is the best!

Jjspina: What lucky children they all are to have had a year with you, Jennie. Especially in preschool, this is the beginning of learning outside the home for children. 

  Jennie’s Bio:

I have been teaching preschool in Massachusetts for over thirty years.  I’m the book guru and the reader-aloud.  And, I’m the writer.  The Eric Carle Museum often posts my writings and reviews.  Teaching children is my passion.  I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience.  Emergent curriculum opens young minds.  It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting.  That’s what I write about.  I am highlighted in the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, The Read-Aloud Handbook  because of my reading to children.  My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.  Our latest quilt is currently hanging at the Massachusetts State House in Boston.  In 2016 I was one of seven teachers in Massachusetts to receive the Teacher of the Year Award.

My website is www.jenniefitzkee.com

My latest blog post is http://jenniefitzkee.com/2018/08/22/an-open-letter-to-teachers/

Thank you, Jennie, for coming today. It was a sincere pleasure to learn more about you and your classroom. I wish you much continued success with your students. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you are Teacher of the Year once again.

Thank you, Jennie, for giving so much of yourself to children thus enabling them to love learning. May God bless you for all that you do to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young children.

I wish I had a teacher like Jennie when I was in school. We need more dedicated professionals like her to teach our children, to open up their minds and hearts to learning, and give them the opportunities to succeed in this world at whatever they choose to be.

Since this is the first time I have had a teacher on my interview segment of Jemsbooks.blog, I would like to add. Please support the teachers in your schools for they hold your children’s education in their hands.

Thank you, readers, for stopping by to read about this fabulous teacher. Please go to her latest blog post link above to read her fascinating blog and visit her lovely website. You will be as enchanted by her as I am.

REMEMBER: READING GIVES YOU WINGS TO FLY! SOAR WITH JEMSBOOKS.COM ALL YEAR THROUGH! HAPPY READING!

Reading is good for your health! Please give authors a little love by reviewing their books wherever you purchased them. We authors will love you back.

Blessings & Hugs!

Janice

About jjspina

Janice is an award-winning author with eleven children's books for PS-Gr 4, six middle-grade/preteen/young adult books, written under Janice Spina, and three novels, and a short story collection written under J.E. Spina. She is also a writer of poetry, blogger, avid reader, reviewer and a copy editor. Janice has always loved writing and started very young writing poetry, then stories. Her children's book, Lamby the Lonely Lamby, won a Silver Medal in the Mom's Choice Awards. Book 1, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives, The Case of the Missing Cell Phone, won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and Honorable Mention from Readers' Favorite Book Awards. Book 2, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series, The Case of the Mysterious Black Cat, won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and so did Book 3, The Case of the Magical Ivory Elephant, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series. Jerry the Crabby Crayfish, Broose the Moose on the loose, Colby the Courageous Cat, Book 5, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives, The Case of the Sad Mischievous Ghost, and Jeffrey the Jittery Giraffe, all won Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards. Book 5 of Davey & Derek also won a Silver Medal from Authorsdb Cover Contest. Hunting Mariah was a Finalist in Authorsdb First Lines Contest. All Janice's books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, B&N and other online book sites. One of her sports' poems was published in The Lawrence Eagle Tribune in October of 2008. She is currently working on Book 2 of Abby & Holly series for girls, a fairy tale and Book 6 of Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series. A YA fantasy series will be coming in 2019 along with more children's books. Her hobbies are crocheting, walking to keep fit, hula hooping, going to the movies with her husband, and spending time with her five grandchildren. Janice loves to hear from readers and appreciates reviews. Sign up on her blog https://jemsbooks.wordpress.com for a copy of her newsletters under Contact Me. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband who is her illustrator and cover creator.
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80 Responses to Interview with Teacher Jennie Fitzkee!

  1. Jennie says:

    Many thanks, Janice. It was an honor and a pleasure to be here.

  2. Jennie says:

    Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
    I had the pleasure of being interviewed by author Janice Spina on her wonderful blog!

  3. It’s a lovely interview, Janice. I’m happy to learn more about Jennie. Too funny about the teacher and his beard. I agree about a vacation in my own backyard (or I would if I had one). “Stay-cations” are the best! Hugs to you both.

  4. This is a wonderful interview about someone that should be teaching teachers how to teach preschoolers or any grade though I know she would miss her own classroom. I think she is the teacher we all wish we had at any point in our education. I learned more about my favorite teacher here. Thank you so much for sharing more of her wonderful self with us.

    • jjspina says:

      Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments. I agree that Jennie is the consummate teacher who should be teaching other teachers. 😀

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Marlene. I wish I could teach every teacher. Many hang out with me in my classroom, and that is beyond wonderful teaching. When they “get it” and soar, well it’s just wonderful. I’m so glad you liked this interview and learned more about me.

  5. Great interview. It’s a vocation to want to teach, just as in nursing or medicine etc.

  6. beetleypete says:

    You couldn’t have picked a better person to interview about education. Jennie teaches from the heart, not a curriculum, and her inspirational tales from the classroom can brighten my day, or bring tears to my old eyes.
    Best wishes from England, Pete.

    • jjspina says:

      Thank you, Pete! Jennie is an exceptional teacher! 😀

    • Jennie says:

      My goodness, Pete. Thank you! I have to say I definitely teach from the heart, and every day has ‘something’. Thirty years ago I was worried about following the lesson plans. Today I revel in the moments that those lesson plans go astray and lead to better, higher learning. I’m so glad that my tales can brighten your day, because that makes my day. And brings tears to my eyes. Best to you.

  7. Ritu says:

    What a great interview of a wonderful teacher and writer 😍

  8. Simply fantastic to see Teacher Jennie here, Janice. She is so inspiring. If she had been my teacher, I probably would have been Einstein.

  9. Thanks, jjspina for featuring this wonderful woman.
    And, Jennie: About that facial hair: I’m thinking maybe the teen guys might be ‘allowed’ to grow one on campus as part of their history projects???!
    Just sayin’…
    ;-D

  10. I had a lovely primary school teacher I just loved Mrs Prest and Jennie sounds just the same sort of caring thoughtful teacher, lovely interview Janice.

  11. This is a great interview, Janice. I could identify with Jennie in many ways because I taught in lower grades for many years as a teacher. It was such a joy to see students learn and read. Thank you for sharing this interview!

  12. Super interview, Janice and Jenne.

  13. Darlene says:

    How wonderful to feature Jennie here. I agree teachers are so important to a child’s development. Jennie is one in a million and we need more of her!

  14. Norah says:

    Fabulous interview with Jennie, Janice. Jennie is the teacher we all wish we’d had when we were in school.

  15. Reblogged this on K. D. Dowdall and commented:
    Everything that Jennie does is special. She just as this way of connecting with everyone. Always such a joy!

  16. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This is a wonderful interview with an excellent teacher!

  17. Thank you for this great interview! Since i follow the blog it would learn more about this great teacher who after 30 years of doing the job always is motivated as the first day. Best wishes, Michael. (Someone from the “Old World”. ***lol***)

  18. Luanne says:

    If only Jennie could be cloned 1000s of times over :).

  19. dgkaye says:

    Great interview and great advice from a teacher who knows how to make a difference, Jennie! ❤ xx

  20. Annika Perry says:

    Janice, this is a wonderful inteview with Jennie and your questions are astute and allow us to gain a greater knowledge of this lovely lady! Your comments add insight to the overall post. Jennie, wow! Your students are so lucky to have you as a teacher … your passion for education, Reading, life shines through. As a young girl story time was my favourite and the children under your care are so lucky to have this twice a day, or even more!

    • jjspina says:

      Thank you, Annika! Yes, you are so right about the children being lucky to have reading twice a day. Jennis is a marvelous treasure to have as a teacher. Hugs xx ❤️

  21. Pingback: Janice Spina interviews Jennie Fitzkee | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  22. Lovely interview, Jennie is amazing!

  23. Ella says:

    Hello,

    You have posted a nice and informative interview article named “INTERVIEW WITH TEACHER JENNIE FITZKEE!”, I learn a lot from your post. Go ahead, keep up the good work.

    Recently I got an article named ” Learning How To Teach Children” here “http://kidsenglishcollege.com/learning-how-to-teach-children/” You can take a look!

    Regards

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