When you walk into Lisa Novotny's kindergarten classroom at Donald E. Schick Elementary School in Loyalsock Township, the room screams of a passion for learning. When she talks about her students, who she also referrs to as her "kiddos," her face lights up like a child on Christmas morning. By witnessing her student's minds grow and them understanding what she is teaching them brings her joy.
"When you look at these little kids and they are working really hard and all of a sudden it's like, 'I did it!' That's their 'ah-ha' moment," she said.
That is what makes all the hard work worth it to Novotny.
Shown is Lisa Novotny, kindergarten teacher at Donald E. Schick Elementary School in Loyalsock Township. Novotny holds Flat Stanley, a character from a children’s book, who she uses as a school project with her students. Novotny has her students take their own paper Flat Stanley and document the adventures he has with the student through photographs and writing.
She recieved a degree in early childhood education from Clarion University and became certified in elementary education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She also recieved a master's degree in reading from Bloomsburg University. She believes that her master's degree allows her to help students understand the importance of reading.
"With that reading background, I really do believe that it makes me more in depth with meeting the needs of students with reading. Teaching them to read, teaching them how to write and better understanding the fundamentals of reading," said Novotny.
As a child, she attended six different schools in three different states. Moving around gave her many experiences and inspired her to become a teacher and make a difference in the lives of children.
She remembers having a teacher named Mrs. Quandt, who was very hands-on, which also inspired Novotny to pursue teaching.
"She was the type of person who made you feel like you were on top of the world. Every student was the main focus," she said.
As a teacher, she uses the same hands-on techniques that inspired her as a child.
In her classroom you can find students moving around and singing, rather than sitting in the typical classroom setting every day.
By putting information in a song, Novotny believes that it helps her students retain information in a way that makes learning fun. "It is a great way where they have music, song and movement to help them remember things," she said.
Novotny is involved in the looping program at Schick, which involves her teaching the students in both kindergarten and first grade. The students have the same teacher for both years as well as the same classmates, which builds a bond stronger than the average classroom.
Using this program, Novotny is able to prepare her students for what they can expect when making the change from each grade. While earning her master's degree, she did her research paper on looping and learned that it has many benefits for the students who are involved in the program.
One project that she is very proud of in her classroom is her Flat Stanley project. Flat Stanley is based off a children's book written by Jeff Brown. The main character, Stanley, is flattened by a bulletin board, which allows him to go on many adventures.
Novotny has her students take their own paper Flat Stanley and document the adventures he has with the student through photographs and writing.
Novotny then sends Flat Stanley cutouts to friends and teachers across the country, and Stanley writes to her students and sends items like books, maps, postcards, etc. back from where he has been around the world.
By using Flat Stanley, Novotny is able to get her students excited about reading, writing and geography because her students always are looking to see where Stanley has been.
Keeping parents connected to the classroom activities is a huge priority for Novotny. She encourages parents and grandparents to be involved in their child's education. They have access to her website through the school, and she produces a weekly newsletter so parents are up to date on what their child is learning.
She uses a program called Reminder 101 where parents can subscribe to her account and she is able to send parents reminders about tests, events, field trips, etc. to their cellphones to remind the parent of the upcoming events.
There also is an open door policy in her classroom and she invites parents to come in and help out with classroom activities.
"I want to make sure parents have an open line of communication from me to them, them to me, because that's their child's first educator," she said. "I am here to help them, and by working together we can build great things."
When she is not in the classroom, Novotny is passionate about scrapbooking. She likes to take photos and preserve them in a format that can be treasured for years to come.
She also enjoys spending time with her family, especially at the beach. One of her favorite pasttimes is getting lost in a good book.
She is a huge fan of sci-fi movies or anything in that category. No matter what she does in her spare time, teaching always will have a piece of her heart.